'I want my mokopuna to swim in clean waters'

May 25, 2023

By Lisa Tumahai, Kaiwhakahaere (Chair) of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere (Chair) Lisa Tumahai

Our global outlook is uncertain – we are facing challenges our tīpuna (ancestors) never encountered.

The intergenerational consequences of a lack of climate action, emerging risks of unregulated artificial intelligence development, and campaigns of disinformation all threaten to undermine wider society.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu recognises the immediacy of the cost-of-living crisis for our whānau, and we welcome the Government’s initiatives to support young families unveiled during Budget 2023.

A weekly supermarket trip is 12.5 percent more expensive than this time last year and whānau will be paying 25 cents extra per litre when the petrol tax relief comes to an end in July.

New policies such as cutting the cost of public transport for rangatahi and extending 20 hours a week of free childcare to two year olds will leave whānau with more pūtea in the kete to meet rising living costs.

We are pleased the Māori caucus has secured $825 million to go towards whānau wellbeing, access to whare, and whakapapa. But this represents more than a 30 percent drop on the previous years targeted funding for whānau Māori and iwi.

Only 2 percent of the total health budget is going to Te Aka Whai Ora to enable the delivery of hauora Māori services. Our crucial kaupapa Māori health providers miss out again on the bulk of this funding.

Scrapping the $5 prescription fee will benefit whānau. But nothing has been done to address the high cost of accessing primary care, with many people still paying around $15 for a repeat prescription through their GPs.

New investments to address climate related initiatives are scattered. An injection to kickstart hydrogen projects in Murihiku and other parts of the country is very promising and builds off work our southern Papatipu Rūnaka have been undertaking over the past year to support the energy transition. We’re yet to hear how the total spending ties together to shift the dial on climate change in a way that’s meaningful for the mokopuna of our tamariki.

Last year Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu launched our climate action plan Te Kounga Paparangi, which tackles the causes and effects of climate change and a host of other environmental issues. Rather than waiting for the next climate disaster, we’re taking proactive action now.

Our hearts went out to communities and whānau following the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle. Through the Takitimu waka, we share strong whānau links with iwi, hapū, and marae badly affected by this disaster.

We welcome the Government’s $1 billion package for cyclone and flood related recovery, and we hope this will bring much needed funding to strengthen heavily battered infrastructure so many rely on.

Our Te Waipounamu communities remain vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including our Ngāi Tahu hapū who settled in coastal areas. Sadly, 16 of our 18 marae are at risk of sea level rise and flooding. Iwi in other parts of the country are at risk too.

Ngāi Tahu is a young iwi and 38 percent of our whānau are aged 25 and under compared to 32 percent of the general population. Unless we prioritise investment in infrastructure and climate change it will be up to future generations of our whānau and communities to carry this burden.

We need to get serious about doing things differently. I want my mokopuna to be able to swim in clean waters, practice mahika kai, and to prosper from the whenua like generations of their whānau before them.

Within our own businesses, we are taking major steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions, embrace renewable energy, optimise resource use, reduce water and ecosystem impacts, and create a resilient future for whānau.

Climate action is the only way to secure the future for our tamariki.