Reflecting on the year that has been, I am proud of how we have come together as a whānau to overcome one of the greatest health challenges in the modern history of our iwi: COVID-19. This virus continues to test our resilience in so many ways, and again we have needed to make difficult decisions to protect each other. Together, we have empowered many whānau to make informed decisions about vaccinating, take safety precautions like wearing masks, and to protect our most vulnerable.
As restrictions have eased, it has been reinvigorating to reconnect kanohi ki te kanohi and celebrate Ngāi Tahutanga at a series of events this year, including Matariki and Puaka. Matariki is a time to celebrate new beginnings. It was wonderful to see so many New Zealanders embracing our first Māori public holiday as we reconnected with our ancestral knowledge and remembered those who had passed.
It is pleasing that despite the challenging economic climate, record high inflation, and rising living costs, Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation (NTHC) has again met the expectations of Te Rūnanga and delivered a net year-end profit of $233 million. I would like to acknowledge the leadership and mahi of NTHC Board Chair, Mike Pohio; NTHC board members; and NTHC Chief Executive, Craig Ellison, for this positive result. The volatile and ever-changing economic environment is the new ‘business normal’, and so we continue to take a cautious approach to spending.
Our strong result means we can continue to provide a range of programmes, scholarships, and other initiatives for whānau, while growing the pūtea for future generations.
In 2020, we made the difficult decision to pause several popular programmes and grants due to economic uncertainties. I am pleased many will be reinstated over the next year, including the Ngāi Tahu cultural programme, Aoraki Bound; Te Pōkai Ao, which introduces rangatahi to future-focused opportunities in the digital world; Manawa Tītī, which supports emerging tribal leaders; and our First Nations Futures Programme. Tamariki starting kura next year will enjoy new school starter packs, and whānau who register with Whai Rawa in 2022 will benefit from the reinstatement of Whai Rawa Annual Distributions.
Weather events have again caused flooding and disruption to our coastal communities, and we were ready to respond with a range of grants and other support to assist whānau in need. During the two COVID-19 lockdowns, we provided more than 2,600 whānau with special Pūtea Manaaki grants totaling $1.1 million (partially funded by Te Arawhiti). Since February 2022, we also delivered more than 5,000 COVID care packs to help with recovery.
I remain hopeful that collaboration between the Office and NTHC will continue to grow. At times we can still feel like we are two very different organisations. As an iwi, we need to ensure we have the right systems in place and build a strong shared culture to take us forward. I trust that our identity project, ‘Mā Tātou Mō Tātou’, will strengthen our sense of purpose and who we are as Ngāi Tahu.
This year, one of our proudest moments was celebrating our rangatira, Tā Tipene O’Regan, who was named New Zealander of the Year. Just a few months later, Tā Tipene became a Member of the Order of New Zealand for his services to Aotearoa as part of the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours. This is well-deserved recognition for his lifetime of mahi, and the incredible contribution he has made. Ka rere ngā mihi ki a koe e te rangatira.
Other highlights have included seeing many Papatipu Rūnanga host vaccination drives to help protect whānau from COVID-19; Ōnuku whānau returning to Takapūneke to unveil Tū te Raki o Te Maiharanui – a pou of healing; and Awarua Rūnaka establishing warm, dry, and safe homes for kaumātua at Te Rau Aroha Marae. These are all fantastic examples of rangatiratanga in action.
The formation of a mana whenua panel for the reclassification of stewardship whenua on Te Tai Poutini and Kaikōura was a positive step forward. The panel was established after we were forced to take legal action against the Crown for not including Ngāi Tahu in the process at the outset. From this adversity came a strong partnership and lessons for the Crown on how to collaborate with our iwi when making decisions about our whenua.
With the Government currently exploring conservation legislation reform, we would like to see more meaningful change, with our Te Tiriti partnership the central pillar of future decision-making. A positive outcome of this mahi would be improved access to the whenua of our tīpuna so we can undertake our kaitiaki responsibilities and harvest mahinga kai.
Although our wai māori claim seeking recognition of rangatiratanga over freshwater is in its early stages, we are already seeing its influence in our interactions with the Crown in mahi such as the Three Waters reform and the Takutai Moana claim.
The number of legislative reforms potentially impacting on our Ngāi Tahu Settlement is significant, and our Settlement interests are taking a large amount of time, energy, and investment to protect and advance. Together, we must hold the Crown to account, so their commitments made during our Ngāi Tahu Settlement for a “new age of co-operation” are upheld.
After two terms as Kaiwhakahaere, 2023 will be my last. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to lead Ngāi Tahu, but it is time for fresh leadership to take our iwi forward to 2050 and beyond. The next generation is ready. Our future leaders are culturally and intellectually astute and have a strong sense of purpose. I will always be active in tribal affairs, and I am committed to ensuring a smooth transition for the new Kaiwhakahaere once they are elected next year.
I mihi to my fellow Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Representatives for their dedicated and wise counsel over the past year, and for their ongoing support. I would also like to acknowledge the decisive leadership of our Chief Executive Officer Arihia Bennett, and the efforts of our kaimahi who continue to put our wider whānau first in everything that they do.
After several years of disruptions to travel and other events, I am looking forward to meeting kanohi ki te kanohi with whānui at Hui-ā-Iwi and the Waitangi Day commemoration. Both events will be my last opportunity as Kaiwhakahaere to hear directly from whānau in a wider rōpū setting.
Ever since my first Te Rūnanga hui 20 years ago, I have enjoyed watching our iwi evolve and grow. Standing on the edge of a new wave of reforms, we are changing again as we assert our rangatiratanga, and partner more closely with the Crown. Ngāi Tahu whānau are resilient and will continue to thrive – mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei.
Nō reira waiho i ēnei kupu āku, hei whakakapi ake i kōnei.
The Summary Group Financial Statements
(audited year-end accounts for FY2022).
Notification of the Annual General Meetings of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Ngāi Tahu Charitable Trust respectively
DATE: 25 November 2022 I TIME: 3.00pm to 4.00pm
Te Whare o Te Waipounamu, 15 Show Place, Addington, Ōtautahi Christchurch.