Whangarei District Council and representatives of seven collectives of Whangarei District hapu have formed a strategic partnership forum to jointly address and resolve issues of significance to hapu and achieve an agreed vision for the District.
The decision to formalise a group has evolved during the past 18 months, with both partners seeking a model to improve engagement with, inclusion and representation of Maori in decision making.
As a result of discussions between the Council and hapu representatives, Council confirmed its commitment to the new forum at last week’s Council meeting, and its own appointees to the Forum.
The forum will be known as Te Karearea Strategic Partnership Forum and will include seven councillors and seven hapu representatives.
During the 18 months of discussions about how to create a way to work together that will be effective, the hapu representatives agreed to draw membership from Te Huinga Rangatira.
The members will represent around 120 hapu clustered into seven main groups, and are senior people within their own communities.
Over the years these members have also increasingly become the go to people for government and local government agencies to talk to when seeking to engage with Maori on strategic issues.
WDC Mayor Morris Cutforth said the new Forum was unique because it was a model indigenous to Whangarei.
“It has been developed voluntarily and without compulsion, through open discussion and partnership over the past 18 months. In this it is different from many models that exist elsewhere because the hapu representatives had an equal role in its development and have been instrumental in shaping how it will work. The point of difference between this Forum and other models is both partners have entered into the partnership arrangement
“The forum will address strategic issues without impeding in any way the ability of individual Maori or Maori entities from being able to deal directly with Council. It is not aiming to control or restrict, but rather to provide a way for people to get together and resolve common issues and issues of strategic importance to Maori.
“In the weeks to come the hapu representatives, who are the former members of Te Karearea/Maori Liaison Committee from last term, will be going back to their communities to discuss representation on the Forum, which may see the membership change.”
WDC Mayor Morris Cutforth said one of the strengths of the Forum was that it would provide for dialogue to take place that was not constrained by the formal meeting procedure of Council committees.
It would also create a deeper understanding of issues when they came forward.
“This is about partnership, building relationships and working together to an agreed vision. It’s about moving forward together and grappling with issues and discussing opportunities so the solutions can be better for everyone.”
Maori members of the Forum
The Maori members of the Forum are Deborah Harding, Te Warihi Hetaraka, Mike Kake, Pereri Mahanga, Taipari Munro, Richard Shepherd and Pita Tipene.
They are representing the hapu groupings Te Parawhau, Ngati Kahu ki Torongare, Ngati Hau, Ngati Hine, Ngati Wai, Patuharakekeand the hapu cluster consisting of Te Waiariki, Ngati Korora and Ngati Taka Pari.
Councillors on the Forum
District councillors on the Committee are Mayor Morris Cutforth, Deputy Mayor Phil Halse and Councillors Crichton Christie, Shelley Deeming (Council’s District Living Committee Chair), Greg Martin (Council’s Infrastucture and Services Committee Chair), Sue Glenn and Warwick Syers (Council’s Finance and Support Committee Chair).