A new chapter has begun in the relationship between Ngai Tahu in Otago and local authorities in the region.
A governance charter signifying the creation of Te Ropu Taiao Otago was signed in Dunedin last Friday alongside a meeting of the Otago Mayoral Forum.
The group’s initial membership is: the Otago Regional Council, Dunedin City Council, Clutha District Council, Central Otago District Council, and the Hokonui, Otakou, Puketeraki, and Moeraki runanga.
Otago Mayoral Forum and ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said the group will act as a forum between Ngai Tahu and local authorities in Otago to facilitate better mutual understanding, improve iwi engagement and resourcing for council-oriented business, and foster and grow iwi capacity in local government.
“Waitaki District Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council will be welcomed onto the group at some time in the future,” Mr Woodhead said.
“This is an important step in the development of the working relationship between local government and iwi in Otago, which can only benefit the region and the collective stewardship of our precious natural resources,” he said.
The group’s objectives include developing a combined work programme to ensure iwi participation in resource management, which will also help local authorities to fulfil their statutory obligations to iwi.
Ngai Tahu spokesman Edward Ellison said the formation of the group was a significant event in terms of improving collaboration between iwi and local government in Otago.
“The group will make it easier for iwi to communicate with and work alongside Otago councils at the level of strategic planning and policy development”, Mr Ellison said