Young lawyer takes Tuia leadership role for 2023

The Mayor of South Wairarapa Martin Connelly has welcomed Herewini Ammunson as this year’s Tuia programme recipient.

The Tuia programme develops leadership in young Māori people aged 18 to 25 through cultural development and regular mentorship from their local mayor.

The relationship is intended to be two-way, giving both parties a chance to share insights about the cultural and intergenerational issues they face.

Herewini, 24, has achieved a great deal already, recently becoming chair of his marae at Papawai, near Greytown.

He became a member of the Council’s Māori Standing Committee during the last triennium. His father, Paora Ammunson, is a former South Wairarapa Councillor.

Andrea Rutene, chair of the Māori Standing Committee, said Herewini displayed the moemoeā (vision) that she hoped would be ignited among other rangatahi (young people).

“Herewini has been brought up next to his marae at Papawai. He has shown excellence in striving for his dreams and putting the work in that’s required to achieve that,” she said.

“He walks in both worlds with confidence and ability and is a really good role model for his generation.

“It just shows how by having role models and giving our young people’s opportunities, the sky’s the limit on what they can achieve – if they know who they are and where they’re from and are supported.

“I look forward to seeing Herewini share what he learns from participating in the Tuia programme with others who may want to take up this opportunity in the future.”

Herewini, who is a junior lawyer, said he was honoured to be given the opportunity of Tuia.

Professionally, he was “interested in the way the law can be used to do better things for iwi, community, marae and hapu.”

“But the work I’m really passionate about is my marae and the community of Wairarapa, which was where I grew up, and things like te reo and tikanga (Māori protocol).”

As well as the mentoring sessions, Herewini must undertake a 100-hour community project and attend several wānanga with other Tuia from around the country.

Herewini, who is a keen environmentalist, said he was looking forward to sharing some of his ideas with Mayor Martin Connelly.

“I’m keen to work alongside a person like Martin and pick his brains and talk about some of the issues and initiatives that I think are important in the south Wairarapa as a young person.

“But ultimately it’s about bringing back the skills and experiences to serve my marae and my iwi.”

Mr Connelly said he was looking forward to learning about the first Tuia 2023 wānanga that Herewini had recently attended and partnering with him on the Tuia journey.

“Herewini is clearly a bright young man who is already contributing much to his community and his culture. He is just the kind of young person that we need to support into leadership.”

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