Hurihia tō aroaro ki te rā tukuna tō ātārangi kia taka ki muri ki a koe

13 August 2021

I have been reminded recently of our past. Described to me as a ‘legacy’, in other words ‘heritage’, and in more simpler words ‘mahi a te tūpuna’.

There is a deep strength and understanding in the past that has shaped the world of Te Ohu Kaimoana, it is so much more than an agreement and a legislative contract, it is the essence of which our tūpuna saw a vision for the future. Whether they knew it at the time, the path that they laid has shaped and defined fisheries. The way that Māori interact with fisheries both as a practice and holding positions that are at the forefront of shaping the future of the mahi of Tangaroa, holds unimaginable opportunity.

I look to our past constantly to ensure that every step forward creates meaningful and thoughtful opportunity for the future. The risk of every organisation that work to serve iwi is that we lose our way, and that we can, at times, be out of touch with what really matters. But I want to assure you that iwi, hapū, whānau, and kaitiaki are at the forefront of my mind as we navigate a new journey together.

I come from a background of environmental management. In those roles I supported iwi, hapū and whānau to try to tackle really difficult and complex questions in managing their natural resources. At the same time, I’m also trying to hold on to their ability to hold-fast to their tino rangatiratanga, which is constantly under pressure. It’s not easy, and there is no silver bullet. One of the critical factors I have learnt is that relationships are everything. Relationships are not dipping your toes in when you want something and pulling them out when it feels uncomfortable; relationships are enduring, it’s about spending time because it’s the right thing to do, it’s about accepting that we come from different viewpoints and respecting the roles that we all play. I believe that I bring a relationship focus and a relational approach to the work we do here at Te Ohu Kaimoana, and this is a muscle that we will continue to strengthen in the work ahead. Ultimately with all we know, we want to do the best we can to create opportunity for the future.

In my new role I think about those learnings and bring them with a fresh perspective to Te Ohu Kaimoana. Here is what I see in front of us.

  • I see that our tino rangatiratanga as iwi, hapū, whānau is constantly being questioned and misunderstood.
  • I see our values and our reo being used against us and reinterpreted to suit the masses to make others feel more comfortable, but worse yet, used to foster an agenda that is not our own.
  • I see our iwi, hapū, whānau needing resources and help, and they are overloaded, tired, and frustrated.
  • I see the opportunity to move beyond holding the line on rights to build a new future of opportunity and prosperity for our iwi, hapū, whānau.
  • I see that setting a new platform on our relationships as Te Ohu Kaimoana with iwi, hapū and whānau will transform the way that we do our work.
  • I also see that setting a new direction of travel with the Crown, industry, and other interested parties could create opportunities we never thought were possible.

The pātai we ask ourselves now is, with all that we have in front of us, where do we start and how do we be the change we want to see? All I can say in these early days is small steps. I won’t promise what I know we can’t deliver, and what I think we can deliver we will do to the best of our ability to make that happen.

I do want to remind all our iwi, hapū, and whānau that we are an expression of your aspirations.

I am encouraged that there are bright, star streaking times ahead if we choose to do things differently. However, with change there is always uncertainty, and with uncertainty we can often feel challenged and fearful about venturing into the new. I ask that you help us build the new, it won’t be a straight line and at times we will make mistakes, but know, that we will do our utmost to be of service to iwi, hapū and whānau in every way we can. The vision I have is beautifully articulated in this whakataukī.As a pan-iwi Māori organisation made up of 58 shareholders you have a right to hold us to account, to question what we do, and be part of solutions that we develop on your behalf. To all the kaitiaki and rangatira that made the effort to come to one of our haerenga – we hear you. We value your whakaaro and we thank you for your honesty and for making the time to help us steer this next stage of our journey. You have all given me the confidence to start to build a strategy that I hope will reflect the organisation you want us to be, and I am excited by the prospect of a new future.

“Hurihia tō aroaro ki te rā tukuna tō ātārangi kia taka ki muri ki a koe – turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”

Help us to turn to the sun and be the epitome of your moemoea for the future.