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ORC Adopts ‘He Mahi Rau Rika’, A New Significance, Engagement And Māori Participation Policy

The policy includes a commitment to improve the regional council’s partnership with mana whenua and engagement with our communities.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) today adopted its new Significance, Engagement and Māori Participation Policy, named ‘He Mahi Rau Rika’. The name, given by Kāi Tahu, means ‘the work of a hundred hands’, representing the many perspectives and collective effort required to achieve success.

ORC Chair Andrew Noone said He Mahi Rau Rika underlined ORC’s commitment to partnering with mana whenua.

“ORC has a number of statutory responsibilities to engage with Māori, but we want to do a lot more than the bottom line, and to ensure meaningful engagement with mana whenua based on the principles of partnership in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. He Mahi Rau Rika sets out the approach behind that commitment.

“Part of this approach involves recognising the tremendous value that mana whenua bring to the decision-making process, by sharing their mātauranga – their knowledge and insight into Otago.”

As well as underlining ORC’s commitments to partnering with mana whenua, He Mahi Rau Rika also confirms the Council’s commitment to effective engagement with the wider Otago community, Cr Noone said.

“ORC’s vision is for our communities, through engagement, to trust us to make well-informed decisions and enable solutions. We know that this trust depends on effective, open and honest engagement. He Mahi Rau Rika outlines a set of principles that will guide all of our engagement going forward, to ensure the conversations we have with our communities are productive and empowering.

“Above all, this policy is a public commitment to our partners and communities. It’s a mechanism for improving our engagement, but also for measuring our success and being accountable,” Cr Noone said.

“Our performance against the expectations set in He Mahi Rau Rika will be evaluated annually and reported in public. We may not always get it right, and developing in this area will be a constant journey, but setting our intent is a very important start and one we are committed to.”

Existing elements of ORC’s partnership with mana whenua include the Mana to Mana forum between Kāi Tahu and the Council and iwi representation on the Strategy and Planning Committee.

He Mahi Rau Rika replaces the existing policy from 2017. Under the Local Government Act 2002, all Councils must have a Significance and Engagement Policy that sets out an approach to engaging with communities on significant decisions.

The policy can be viewed starting page 172 of today’s Council agenda: https://www.orc.govt.nz/media/10878/agenda-council-20211027.pdf

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