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Prominent New Zealanders and Māori academics will be speaking at this month's Tauranga conference for Bay of Plenty Māori.
The one-day conference, Te Tōanga Mai o Te Rā, or 'the rising of the sun', is hosted by Bay of Plenty Regional Council and is being held at Tauranga's TECT Arena Baypark on Monday, 23 April. So far 180 people have registered for the conference and anyone who now wants to attend will need to go on a waiting list for any cancellations.
Keynote speaker is Waitangi Tribunal Chair and Chief Judge of the Māori land Court, judge Justice Joe Williams. Judge Williams will be discussing Māori into the future and the use of Māori land.
Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres will be chairing sessions on constitutional reform, the Māori role in local government and engaging with councils, led by Auckland University Māori Studies Professor Ann Sullivan and Te Mana o Ngāti Rangtihi Trust Chief Executive Nick Alexander.
University of Waikato Director of Māori and Indigenous Governance Research Centre Professor Linda Te Aho will lead a session on the post-Treaty era, and Otago University senior law lecturer Jacinta Ruru will lead a session on water and Māori rights.
Inaugural New Zealand Fulbright Harkness Fellow Sacha McMeeking will lead a session on economic development for Māori with Regional Council Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod and Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective Chair Charlie Tawhiao. Other speakers include Canterbury Regional Council Chief Executive and former Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Bill Bayfield and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Te Rangi Treaty Settlements Manager Dr Riri Ellis.
Session Chair, Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor Raewyn Bennett said the conference was an opportunity to provide tangata whenua with access to information that was easily available to Regional Councillors.
"Councillors and others have access to latest research and new ideas as a matter of course. The conference will assist with levelling the playing field," she said.
"Given the importance of tangata whenua involvement in the affairs of the Bay of Plenty, economically, socially and politically, Council has taken the opportunity of further building of positive relationships, which is the most productive way forward for the Bay."
"Any business organisation with an eye on the future knows that informed involvement of tangata whenua is essential to the Bay's future prosperity. For tangata whenua there is the opportunity to strengthen business relationships with each other and also to be exposed to new ideas from outside the Bay on some critical issues like water rights and responsibilities, local government, economic development."
The conference is aimed at Māori living in, or with an interest in the Bay of Plenty.