From the CEO

Apr 3, 2016

tk67-arihia-bennettChief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu,
Arihia Bennett

As we move beyond the summer break and back into our routines, a new and exciting phase begins for the many tamariki starting school for the first time in 2016. Every parent hopes their child’s learning will be shaped by a myriad of new experiences and that school will offer many cultural experiences as children grow and develop.

Along with global warming or climate change, it goes without saying that communities are becoming more culturally diverse. The world is a small place and people are more mobile than ever before. Some are forced to move due to political and survival needs, while others are free and equipped to make choices at their own will. Over the next 20 years we will see a growth in European, Māori, Asian, and Pacifica ethnicities. As political and iwi leaders, we should ensure our decision-making reflects this.

For our children, the decision-making leadership of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu must remain steadfast to long-term aspirations. It is a tremendous balancing act, with a duty to represent the current needs of our wider tribe, while always looking ahead to address the future ambitions of our culturally diverse younger population.

Our current responsibilities are anchored in the preservation and protection of our cultural identity. We must continue to be the best stewards of Ngāi Tahutanga, while opening the door to integrate and normalise innovative, creative thinking, as this is what brings us the richness of diversity.

So what does “opening the door” mean? In my view it means actively seeking the voices of younger people – stopping, listening, making sense of their aspirations – and then actually doing something about them. It can be as simple as having meaningful conversations with our younger generations.

Recently I asked my eight-year-old nephew what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he said that after going to university, he wants to look for dinosaur bones so he can travel the world and make new discoveries like they did on Jurassic Park. I suggested this meant he wanted to be an archaeologist, and he said, “Yes that’s what it is called.” He then went on to say he is worried that he might forget about it when he’s a teenager, but was also clear that he didn’t want to work in an office as it looks very boring. I told him to write it down on some paper and put it away in a drawer so he won’t forget.

To me, it’s worth tracking my nephew’s interests and aspirations over time. As science and technology rapidly expand, there will be some whizz-bang new way to become involved in archaeology. As a tribal leader, and more simply as an aunty, it’s worth listening to our tamariki and rangatahi – to step beyond our own thoughts and at times self-importance.

As the year begins, take some time out and talk to a child or young person about their aspirations, as you just never know where it might take you.