It was a great privilege to host this hui in our takiwā. The majestic backdrop of the Tākitimu mountains coupled with the blistering sunshine made Te Kōawa Tūroa o Tākitimu sparkle like the jewel that it is. Having the meeting at a venue like this reinforces just how vast and diverse the landscapes and rohe of Ngāi Tahu whānau are.

This land has intrinsic values that no money can buy. It is sacrosanct, and as such, as kaitiaki we have a duty of care to ensure its continued wellbeing. The profits we gain from this are not measured in monetary terms but in the access whānau have to this special place and others similar to it. Te Kōawa Tūroa o Tākitimu is an example of Mō Tātau – for us and our children after us.

Rūnanga members and staff put in many hours getting the venue ready and ensuring that the visit went off smoothly. We wanted the Representatives to experience a small slice of the Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka takiwā and to understand a little of what makes our rūnanga tick and what is important to us.

On the Friday evening after the committee meetings which were held in Te Anau, the Representatives and staff were welcomed by Stewart Bull prior to an evening meal. Our kapa haka rōpū made us all very proud as they provided the waiata at the mihi whakatau and another outstanding performance during the meal.

After the meal Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka made a presentation to Te Rūnanga on our aspirations for our rūnanga. We opened with Joe Wakefield giving the whaikōrero of our takiwā and our place within it. Aunty Jane Davis and Muriel Johnstone provided an overview and a grounding in where we fit within our tribal history and the history of Te Kerēme. They reminded us of how in our pre-settlement times we were more unified and humble than we are today. We came together as an iwi and had shared dreams that were about our people, and our lands not just a commercial balance sheet and our image.

Our Chair, Sandra Cook, set the scene for the presentation. Unlike most rūnanga who have presented to Te Rūnanga on their aspirations – Ōraka Aparima is not seeking a blank cheque either in terms of Pūtea Whakamahi or Pūtea Tautoko. No other iwi in the country comes close to the levels of distribution acheived by Ngāi Tahu but she noted that the approach to date has been uneven and lacking transparency.

Sandra then spoke to two examples of land based projects Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka has been pursuing and funding largely on our own. The first was Te Kōawa Tūroa o Tākitimu which we now lease from the Waiau Mahika Kai Trust. As Aunty Jane said earlier this property is an asset that is available to the tribe and the Representatives present could certainly see and experience the wairua associated with this special place. Yet it is not seen as a “tribal property” and therefore receives no tribal funding for its maintenance and upkeep.

The second example was Rarotoka, an island returned to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu under the Ngāi Tahu Deed of Settlement. Sandra explained that Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka was involved in the negotiations for the return of Rarotoka, the eradication of rats from the island and has worked tirelessly on its restoration for nearly 20 years now. It has only been recently that funding from Te Rūnanga has become available for capital works but not for on-going plantings or upkeep of the land.

The last example was put forward by Joe Wakefield – the joint funding of a full-time position for Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka to advance its te reo and education strategy. It was another example of Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka putting our own money where our aspirations are which we argued should be a factor when Te Rūnanga makes distribution decisions.

The presentation concluded with three slides:

What Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka appreciates:

  • The certainty of Pūtea Whakamahi
  • Te Rūnanga staff working in our regions
  • Support to do our own version of the Ruapehu Whānau Project

What our aspirations are:

  • We will hold tight to what bought us as Ngāi Tahu together as a people
  • We want our people to be more important than process or bureaucracy
  • We will support our collective aspirations
  • We will celebrate the successes of other Papatipu Rūnanga and of Te Rūnanga

What our expectations of Te Rūnanga are:

  • Must ensure we all share equitably in the benefits of the Settlement as measured over time

Our tribal leadership will act with integrity and honour at all times at a Papatipu Rūnanga level and at Te Rūnanga.

Ann Wakefield our TRoNT Representative sharing a laugh with our Kaiwhakahaere Sandra Cook.

Ann Wakefield our TRoNT Representative sharing a laugh with our Kaiwhakahaere Sandra Cook.

Kaihautū Riki Dallas serving the kai.

Kaihautū Riki Dallas serving the kai.

Ōraka Aparima Kāhui Kaumātua, Taua Betty Rickus and Tāua Jane Davis two of our stalwarts and Rūnaka Heartbeats.

Ōraka Aparima Kāhui Kaumātua, Taua Betty Rickus and Tāua Jane Davis two of our stalwarts and Rūnaka Heartbeats.

Long view from the deck of Te Kōawa Tūroa o Tākitimu which is nestled in the foothills of the mighty Tākitimu. – he maunga teitei.

Long view from the deck of Te Kōawa Tūroa o Tākitimu which is nestled in the foothills of the mighty Tākitimu. – he maunga teitei.

Our people our places. A stunning performance from our Ōraka Aparima tamariki, ably supported by Stewart Bull facilitating a welcome. Aroha ki te tangata. Ki Uta Ki Tai.

Our people our places. A stunning performance from our Ōraka Aparima tamariki, ably supported by Stewart Bull facilitating a welcome. Aroha ki te tangata. Ki Uta Ki Tai.

Joe Wakefield Ōraka Aparima, skilfully taking the whānau through the motu, highlighting significant site and resources utilised by our people. The table having enjoyed a delicious kai could imagine the journey and discovery of our special and sacred sites.

Joe Wakefield Ōraka Aparima, skilfully taking the whānau through the motu, highlighting significant site and resources utilised by our people. The table having enjoyed a delicious kai could imagine the journey and discovery of our special and sacred sites.

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