From the Chair

Posted on 18 March 2019

From the Chair

Kia ora e te whānau

An appropriate word for me to start this month with, is ‘kotahitanga’, which most of you will know means unity, togetherness, solidarity, and/or collective action. This past month has seen a number of examples of this in action.

The first is the fires. Over the past month we in Nelson have seen the devastation of the bush fires, originating in Pigeon Valley and spreading rapidly from there. A number of our whānau living in the affected areas were forced to evacuate their homes. Very early in the emergency, the iwi of Tauihu stood up to respond, and through a wide range of activity, made an immediate and lasting impact: Te Pūtahitanga navigators were assigned and worked on the ground supporting evacuees throughout the emergency, the Māori warden network assisted where required, marae were opened to give evacuees a temporary home and two iwi liaison officers were mandated by iwi, to work with the Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management team. At a hui with Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne stated in an emotional speech that the game changer in the management of the emergency was Iwi. We must send a deep thank you to those involved, in particular, Barney Thomas, Shane Graham and Dexter Traill.

The second example is the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance which has been formed across the top of the South Island, initiated by the Department of Conservation, and embraced by iwi and the councils of Kaikoura, Marlborough, Nelson, Tasman, Buller and the West Coast. The Alliance aims to achieve large-scale conservation projects with wider social, cultural and economic outcomes and is in the final stages of ratifying an overarching agreement which will embrace mātauranga Māori concepts as a foundation. A strategy document is also nearing completion which will prioritise specific work streams across the top of the South Island.

The third example is the approach being taken by Nelson City Council in how they engage with iwi. They have recently formed an Iwi-Council Advisory Group, and an Iwi Leaders Forum, which enables two-way open communication, and creates opportunities for iwi to take a more active role in council activity, for example, the selection of a council kaumātua (due to the impending retirement of the incumbent) and recommending iwi appointees for council sub-committees. This forum may in time also offer up economic investment opportunities for iwi to consider.

The work of the Tōtaranui 250 Trust serves as yet another example of working together. We look forward to being able to share the stories of our iwi with the wider community and Aotearoa during the Tuia 250 commemorations in November, and I encourage you to get involved, even if you live outside of the rohe. 

Ngā mihi

Brendon Wilson

Chairman, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trusts

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