Waitangi Park Memorial, Clive. Photo: Florence Charvin

Kia whakakotahi ararau huia tangata kotahi!

A-i-o ki te rangi,

A-i-o ki te whenua,

Aroha ki te Ao,

Aroha ki Te Tiriti o Waitangi!

Make unity in diversity, Huia, your destiny is to bring everyone together!

Peace to the heavens,

Peace to the earth,

Compassion to the world,

Harmony to The Treaty of Waitangi!

Tēnārā koutou katoa, greetings to you all.

Whakakotahi Ararau “Unity in Diversity” was the declaration made 184 years ago when Te Tiriti was signed in Heretaunga, Te Mata a Maui. Today, we stand together, to acknowledge and reflect on the vision of our Rangatira. The principle of that vision was for our nation’s people to work together in partnership, so every New Zealander has equal opportunity to thrive and prosper. 

That vision is as relevant today, as it was when the Treaty was signed in 1840.

We are proud of our partnership with Iwi Māori, the Crown and Hastings District Council.

Today we celebrate our Heretaunga, mana whenua partnership which spans over many years. Last year, following the devastation from Cyclone Gabrielle, we saw how our people united. Our Heretaunga Marae was the first to open its doors offering evacuation hubs and distribution centres, supporting both Māori and pakeha. With a determined spirit, our community worked together to support those who had tragically lost loved ones, who cared for the hundreds of displaced whanau, who cooked and delivered food, who cleared silt and debris from homes and helped with the overwhelming task of rebuilding people’s lives. Everyone cared for those in need, and embraced true unity in diversity in the spirit, as written in article three of the Treaty.

Over the past year, the introduction of the inaugural Takitimu Ward councillors has strengthened and enriched the diversity of our Council, bringing the te ao Māori perspective to all of our decision-making, creating a positive change to the lives of our people and our place.

Our Takitimu Ward councillors’ first official engagement was to launch bilingual signage and dual place names. Original Māori names were reinstated alongside their current English names on our old and faded signs. These signs and place names have been embraced by our community and this year we will introduce new Marae safety signs. 

With $9m of Government funding our Council’s team, in partnership with Ngā Marae, TPK and our Taiwhenua, upgraded and improved 19 Marae across the District. Also in true partnership, we have protected through covenants, our culturally significant landscape — Te Mata – from the threat of future development.

Over the past year, our community has enjoyed learning our Heretaunga Māori history, in a series by Charles Ropitini. The use of Te Reo Māori is being taught and spoken by so many. At Hastings Girls High School’s prize-giving last year, the Principal told me that Te Reo Māori was her school’s most popular subject. We are excited to host the national Te Reo Māori language symposium in Heretaunga lead by Te Tai Whenua o Heretaunga at Toitoi in August this year. 

We are also proud to welcome the Iwi Leaders Forum and Economic Summit in October. Also this year we will see the exciting opening of the new Te Kura Kaupapa o te whare Tapere o Takitimu in Bennett Road in Waipatu, and Kauwaka Ltd  in partnership with the Council. The new home for our Kahurangi Māori Dance Company.

Waiaroha Opening Photo Sahiban Hyde

A special highlight for us last year was the opening of Waiaroha, the world’s first, cultural water discovery centre. Through our Partnership with Mana whenua, Waiaroha brings to life the unique story of our Heretaunga Aquifers and Te Mana o Te Wai – the care and  protection of our precious water. The partnership is embeddedin the carvings that adorn the entrance to Waiaroha, a place where everyone is welcome to visit and learn. Only a week after being opened, Waiaroha was dedicated as a Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom, a beacon of hope and light for the future. 

Just like Waiaroha, we have many opportunities for future partnerships through co-design with mana whenua for Papakainga, new housing developments, infrastructure, and new commercial developments including our Heretaunga iwi māori culture.  We look forward to the new Regional Archives and Storage Centre that will open in 2025 – a partnership between the Napier and Hastings Councils with the Museum Trust and Mana Whenua.

Since 2019, together with government, council and mana whenua, through our housing plan, have housed 400 people who were living in emergency accommodation — 73% of whom were māori.

Today, we honour the Treaty of Waitangi – our unique New Zealand identity, our guiding light for unity in diversity. A guiding light that shines its brightest when all people live through and by Tikanga. 

Tikanga informs our understanding of each other and our responsibilities, and obligations to each other. Tikanga is enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty is the foundation of who we are as a nation. An aspiration of a truly unified country that beats with one heart and speaks with one voice.

Thank you to the Waipureku Committee for your hard work making this important commemoration day such a memorable success.

Happy Waitangi Day!

Nō reira

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.


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