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Rotorua Lakes Council announces Te Ahurei appointment

Arapeta Tahana has been appointed to the role of Te Ahurei to guide Rotorua Lakes Council’s ongoing relationship with Te Arawa.

Mr Tahana (Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Makino, Tapuika – Te Arawa Waka) will take up his new role 1 October 2019.

A councillor on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for the Ōkurei Māori constituency since 2013, Mr Tahana has a background in business management, Maori development, local government and community development across both operational and governance roles.

Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Tatau o Te Arawa and Te Arawa Lakes Trust joined forces to recruit for the Te Ahurei role. It was developed to replace the Kaitiaki Ahurea Māori role held by Ngāti Whakaue kaumātua Monty Morrison who is transitioning out to fulfil his tribal leadership commitments.

“I’m excited at the opportunity to join the Rotorua Lakes Council team and contribute to strengthening the partnership with Te Arawa in a way that delivers positive outcomes for Te Arawa and indeed the whole Rotorua community,” Mr Tahana says.

“I’m also humbled by the history of the relationship between Te Arawa and settlers to Rotorua – it was these ancestors who set the vision for the spirit of togetherness. Our job is to honour that vision and make it flourish within the context of our times.”

Rotorua Lakes Council’s chief executive, Geoff Williams says the new role will be crucial to the ongoing development and success of the council’s partnership with Te Arawa.

“We had a good number of very high calibre applicants and that was very pleasing because this is an extremely important role for our organisation.

“Our organisation deals with some very complex matters that require us to engage and work with Te Arawa effectively and we needed somebody who has the confidence of Te Arawa. With that in mind we established a joint recruitment panel with Te Tatau o Te Arawa and Te Arawa Lakes Trust representation to develop the job description and recruit a suitable person. It’s been a great process and we are very pleased to be welcoming Mr Tahana to the council team.”

Mr Williams says the Te Ahurei role is focussed on external relations but will also provide input into the development of council’s internal capabilities as part of the organisation’s efforts to work effectively with Te Arawa.

The joint recruitment process demonstrates the spirit of the Te Arawa partnership that was signed with Council in 2015, a spokesperson for Te Tatau o Te Arawa says. “All parties ultimately want to contribute towards making the Rotorua district better for its residents while upholding the value of Te Arawa as mana whenua. Mr Tahana has all the requisite skills to advance progress on some challenging issues for Te Arawa and our Community and has the full backing of Te Tatau o Te Arawa and Te Arawa Lakes Trust in this new role. It is a true reflection of partnership in action and an encouraging step forward for Te Arawa and our community at large.”

Tā Toby Curtis, Chair of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, the tribal confederation’s mandated post-settlement governance entity, says Mr Tahana will play a vital role in facilitating ongoing relations between the council and Te Arawa hapū and iwi.

“Te Arawa is fortunate to have a collection of young people who are well qualified, appropriately skilled and culturally committed to advancing the contribution of iwi, in all sectors of the community. I am confident that the appointment of Mr Tahana, will lead to a more active and greater involvement of Te Arawa in the economic development, educational and social advancement of our city and the Rotorua region.

“We look forward to a strong and enduring relationship with Our Lakes Council,” Tā Toby says.

Mr Morrison, who has provided manaaki (care/guidance) to the organisation, will remain at Council for a time to help Mr Tahana settle in.

Arapeta Tahana – biography

• Iwi Affiliations: Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Makino, Tapuika – Te Arawa Waka

• Age: 38

• Whanau: Laurissa Kerei (partner) and three daughters Te Kirihana, Parewhakaawe, Taingaehe. And two daughters from a previous relationship, Mapihi Kahurangi and Maria.

• Background in business management, Maori development, local government and community development across both operational and governance roles.

• Councillor on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (2013-2019) representing the Okurei constituency, one of three Maori wards. Arapeta currently Chairs BOPRC’s Komiti Maori and is Deputy Chair of Te Maru o Kaituna, the co-governance forum for the Kaituna river.

• Member of Te Maruata, Local Government NZ’s Maori advisory board (2017-2019).

• Chairperson of Rotoiti 15 Ahu Whenua Trust, largest Maori land block in the Rotorua District, 8,400 ha, $43m asset base, 15,000 owners (2010-19).

• Member of RLC’s Te Arawa Standing Committee (2010-2014)

• Led the design and iwi engagement for the establishment of the Te Arawa Partnership with Rotorua Lakes Council (2014-15)

• Youth and Community Development officer, Porirua City Council 2007-10

• Owned and operated 2 Vodafone franchises in Rotorua, 2001-2005

FAQs – Te Ahurei position

What is the job?

The position of Te Ahurei will support Council’s governance and senior leadership to build constructive iwi relationships and work effectively in partnership with Te Arawa and its various entities.

It is an executive role that will require advanced strategic skills and the ability to provide leadership around complex issues.

It was important the successful candidate was someone who holds the trust and confidence of Te Arawa.

What was the recruitment process?

Reflecting the partnership with Te Arawa, the process of appointment to this role was led by a panel comprised of representatives from Te Tatau o Te Arawa, Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Rotorua Lakes Council. The panel designed the position description and shortlisted and interviewed applicants to determine the successful candidate to be appointed.

How many applicants were there and how many were shortlisted?

10 applications were received and were shortlisted to six for initial interviews with three going to second interviews to select the preferred candidate.

How did the job come about?

Council announced in November last year, that its current Kaitiaki Ahurea Māori, Monty Morrison, was transitioning away from his full-time role with the organisation.

The Ngāti Whakaue leader joined Council in 2015 after the passing of Council’s former Kaupapa Māori director, Mauriora Kingi.

Mr Morrison has transitioned to a part-time kaumātua role at Council alongside his iwi leadership roles with Ngāti Whakaue and Te Arawa.

Why is the position of Te Ahurei needed by Council?

Council is a bicultural organisation which is committed to its partnership with the mana whenua of Te Arawa. It signed a partnership agreement with Te Tatau o Te Arawa in December 2015 and enable Council to meet its commitment to:
• Effectively partner with Te Arawa
• Strengthen Te Arawa participation in council decision-making
• Identify strategic opportunities to work closely together for the benefit of the Rotorua district and build iwi capacity and capability to partner with local government


The partnership will also help Council to meet its legal and statutory obligations with regards to working closely with Māori and local iwi.

Why were Te Tatau o Te Arawa and Te Arawa Lakes Trust involved in the recruitment process?

Council decided to enlist the expertise of Te Arawa in finding the best candidate to guide and lead the Council in advancing and nurturing its relationship with Te Arawa.


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