I would like to give my interpretation on this subject in terms of various natural resource matters under consideration by councils in the region.
Recent HB Today newspaper comments from Maori leaders seemed to be at odds as to who had the right to speak on Maori matters, when in fact the two gentlemen concerned were both right, although they had opposing opinions as to how things should be administered. I agree with the main theme of these well-known Maori men – Ngahiwi Tomoana as chairman of the Runanga – Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated (NKII) and Tama Huata – CEO of Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu (an internationally acclaimed cultural organisation based in Hastings).
Basically what both said is that the basis of the Maori voice comes from the marae. Very true.
In the Hawke’s Bay region there are four Taiwhenua – Wairoa, Whanganui a Orotu (Napier), Heretaunga and Tamatea (Central HB).
Each marae in each of those four Taiwhenua send a representative to sit on their particular Taiwhenua Committees.
In terms of the Regional Council relationship with each of the four Taiwhenua – each Taiwhenua send three nominated representatives onto the Council’s Maori Standing Committee.
Each Taiwhenua also sends one representative to be on the rununga (NKII) Board as well (which could be described as the layer above the various Taiwhenua) .
Going back to (council) matters pertaining specifically to marae matters, often a marae spokesman will offer either advice or comment on behalf of the marae group. Conversely, the marae delegate may bring the matter to the Taiwhenua and a spokesman from that committee may either make a statement or agree to talk to the council concerned. Also the matter could go onto the runanga level if deemed necessary by the people concerned. Spokespersons along the way usually give a view backed by their particular committee or group that has an understanding of the subject in question.
As the HBRC Maori Standing Committee chairman, I am always careful to only make statements on subjects that the committee have discussed and got a general consensus viewpoint on.
Ngahiwi as a recognised Kahungunu leader, however, has a much wider brief and will often comment on Maori matters right across the board as is his right to do.
He is well aware, however, of what is a marae matter and what matters need addressing from a wider perspective.
To slightly confuse things going into the future, there are a number of Treaty of Waitangi claimant groups coming to the fore. Each of these groups may claim speaking rights on natural resource matters with Councils, and this is in Maori terms an accepted right. Rather than see this as being a nightmare for councils, it should in my view be seen as a positive move for all peoples.
Coming through the ranks of Maoridom is a group of university educated young people with heaps of energy and vision. These will be in the not too distant future, the new voices of Maoridom.
I welcome this pending new wave of optimism and will gladly step aside as they move forward. At Ocean Beach, as chairman of the Waipuka Incorporation, I have a top-of- the-range niece, with a legal background, ready to step into the chairpersonship. I will be doing this in the very near future, confident that the re-occurring and looming problems at Ocean Beach will be in good hands. Ka pu te ruha, ka hao the rangatahi – the old net is caste aside – the new net goes a-fishing.
So one can see, and I think it is generally accepted in Maoridom, that when the marae or hapu has matters that it wishes to bring to the council’s attention, it can do so at whatever level it wants. While there is a type of hierarchy in these matters, I emphaise that the marae is the basis of the voice of all things Maori.
It is often difficult for council staff to know where or who to contact in matters concerning council business.
The number of committees listed above are well served by competent people. They have built relationships with various councils throughout the region, which has led to a better understanding by all sides.
Tena noa tatou katoa.