A new partnership agreement between mana whenua groups and Wellington City Council, to be formally signed today aims to promote collaboration, communication and unity in the city, says Mayor, Andy Foster.
Leaders from Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa, along with Mayor Foster and City Councillors will gather to formally sign Tākai Here, the new partnership agreement, at Pipitea Marae this afternoon.
Mayor Foster says Tākai Here sets a framework for the ways the the Council and mana whenua will work together for the benefit of the city and region. Tākai Here replaces separate memoranda of understanding signed by the Council in 2017.
He says the date of the ceremony is symbolic – being the 182nd anniversary of the signing of Tiriti o Waitangi in Te Whanganui a Tara Wellington Harbour.
“Our signatures bring the spirit of partnership, inherent in Te Tiriti, to the way we work together,” said Mayor Foster.
Kara Puketapu-Dentice, Chairman of Taranaki Whānui, says: “Tākai Here is a partnership agreement that brings to life the strategic partnership between Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika, Te Rūnanganui o Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira and the City Council underpinned by shared values and tikanga.”
“The Tākai Here partnership agreement reflects all partners as equals and that mana whenua and Council are committing to one agreement for all of us. It opens the door for collaborative and open discussion between us all and what really matters in Wellington City.”
Helmut Modlik, CEO of Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Board, says: “Like our tūpuna did 182 years ago, the leadership of Ngāti Toa sign this partnership agreement with an eye to the future and a commitment to working together to enhance the wellbeing, prosperity, and mana of our peoples. Whiti te rā!”
Callum Katene, Chair of Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Board said times have changed since the days when Dame Naida Glavish caused nationwide outrage in 1984 by answering phone calls with “Kia ora!” and faced the wrath of her employer and the wider public.
“By contrast, thirty-eight years later, there is a genuine desire across our communities to explore what a meaningful Treaty-based partnership looks like. With this agreement, Wellington City Council demonstrates its commitment to be at the forefront of this voyage of discovery. This is an exciting time for us all,” he said.
Te Rūnanganui o Te Ātiawa Chair Kura Moeahu says: “Our ancestors signed the Te Tiriti o Waitangi on 29 April 1840 in this harbour, as a reminder that we did not cede our chiefly authority. In saying that the Tākai Here is a reminder of the collective responsibility that we have towards one another, it is the vehicle towards navigating towards Oritenga, through a co-led, co-driven, co-governance waka.”
Mayor Foster says strengthening relationships with mana whenua and Māori partnerships is a key priority for Council.
“The Council has committed to making space for mana whenua and Māori to meaningfully participate in, contribute to and inform Council decisions. Improved partnerships and capacity building are the cornerstones of our future direction.”
“Just one current example is the important mana whenua input into the design of our new central library – Te Matapihi.”
Councillor Jill Day (Ngāti Tūwharetoa), Chair of the Council’s Pūroro Rangaranga Social, Cultural and Economic Committee, says the agreement is another step along the decolonisation journey in Wellington.
“We have improved Māori representation and visibility in the city by making places at our committee table for representatives of Ngāti Toa and Taranaki Whānui, and the creation of a Māori ward seat on the full Council – which will be contested at this year’s local elections,” she said.
“We also instituted the City Council’s Te Tauihu o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Policy in 2018 – with the aim of celebrating te reo Māori and supporting the revitalisation of the language within Council activities and the city.
“While there is much more to be done to reduce inequity for Māori and the impacts of colonisation this agreement is a genuine step towards improving the wellbeing of Māori and the community as a whole. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this new approach in the years to come.”
City Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow notes Tākai Here is another milestone for the Council, and follows the decision made in 2021 to establish a Tātai Heke Māori (Chief Māori Officer) position at the executive leadership level. This role has been filled by Karepa Wall. Following Karepa’s appointment, another significant step was marked when the Council approved $29 million for Māori outcomes to be invested over the next 10 years.
Mayor Foster noted that today’s ceremony closely precedes the scheduled discussion, on 5 May, of the proposed adoption of Tūpiki Ora – the Council’s 10-year Māori Strategy. “Tākai Here and Tūpiki Ora are closely linked – one really cannot work in the absence of the other.
“Tūpiki Ora is a metaphor for the pursuit of wellbeing. Together, Tūpiki Ora and Tākai Here establish a new way of working together and provide a blueprint for Tūpiki Ora, the pursuit of wellness so we can see our whānau thrive,” he said.
Cr Day says while the strategy focuses on the next 10 years, mana whenua and Māori aspirations extend well beyond this.
“The intent is that the decisions we make over the next 10 years will impact positively on our grandchildren in 50 years’ time,” she said.