Reflections from our Māori Standing Committee Chair and Mayor this Waitangi Day

6 February 2020

Waitangi Day is an important day in our country’s history. Today, we reflect on how this day in 1840 has shaped our nation and how we, as a Council, can strengthen our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

South Wairarapa has the earliest known Māori occupation sites in the country and was flourishing pre-colonisation with villages dotted around the coast and Wairarapa Moana. Council acknowledge the drastic changes local Māori have endured post-colonial settlement and we are committed to ensuring Māori are part of Council decision making moving forward. The Council was also one of the first in Aotearoa to establish a Māori Standing Committee, which advocates and represents the interests of their marae and iwi and works with the Planning and Environment Group on resource consents.

In this past year, Council has taken some positive steps forward. Working closely with the Māori Standing Committee, the mono-cultural logo has been replaced with a bi-cultural logo with the words “Kia Reretahi Tātau” meaning “Let’s fly together”. As signage around the District is replaced, signs including Te Reo Māori, where possible, are being installed, and many Council staff recently completed a six-week Te Reo programme.

Māori Standing Committee Chair Raihānia Tipoki says “this and every Waitangi Day is one day in the calendar year that we should challenge ourselves to learn about how 500 of our rangatira envisaged the future when they signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As Dame Tariana Turia put it ‘Te Tiriti o Waitangi was our first immigration policy document’.

“Interestingly both international law and our own Waitangi Tribunal agree that Māori did not cede sovereignty to the British Crown in 1840. I must say, however, that it’s encouraging our Council are genuinely committed to elevating our voices at the local government level and we look forward to another term of building relationships.”

Mayor Alex Beijen would like to see continued integration of iwi into council decision-making and activities as a priority.

“The input of the Māori Standing Committee, and Māori in general, is crucial to making informed decisions for the council as a whole.

I support a collaborative positive consultation with whānau, hapū, marae, and iwi. We have made big strides in this area of consultation and I wish to strengthen and reinforce the progress made over the past few years,” says Mayor Beijen.

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