Hikoi To Manawatū District Council Gains Momentum
A packed house of marae, hapū and iwi representatives gathered together in Feilding last night to discuss the recent vote by Manawatu District Council not to establish Māori wards in the region. As a result of the meeting they have collectivised as Te Kōtui Reo and have retracted the gifted name Te Manu Tāiko for the Councils Māori engagement body and relinquished their full cultural support for the Manawatū District Council until further notice.
Guest speaker at the hui Debbie Ngarewa-Packer (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Ruahine, Ngā Rauru) Co-leader of the Māori Party and previous Deputy Mayor of South Taranaki District Council shared insights of her journey walking beside and challenging local council for equity and recognition of her Iwi as a valuable Te Tiriti Partner. Debbie encouraged Te Kōtui Reo to use the collective as a springboard for change and she reminded the room that “although there are many racist undertones and fear from those not yet open to establishing Māori wards in the District, that people can change their minds – if they choose to”. She adds that “Māori wards is not only a Māori issue, as a local community you have worked together, supported one another and uplifted each other during difficult times, why wouldn’t the broader public support and help you have a voice in Council?”.
Another guest – Previous Mayor of New Plymouth Andrew Judd shared his journey of metamophisis and the impact of working to bring a distinct Māori voice to the Council table. He has delivered over 370 public speeches on this matter and despite the personal changes he has made, he stilll calls himself a recovering racist, to highlight the decision to own his past and his privilege requires courage and daily commitment.
One of the attendees from Aorangi Marae, Ngāti Kauwhata Sir Mason Durie said: “If the meeting showed anything it was that iwi are united in a commitment to improve the social and economic circumstances of our people. We all agreed that in a region such as the Manawatū, a strong Māori voice will be critical, not only for Māori but for everyone within the region”.
A hikoi will take place 9am Tuesday May 11 departing from 139 South Street Feilding to demonstrate solidarity and to present a series of signed letters by local Iwi and
Hapū leadership representatives to Mayor Helen Worboys for serious consideration.