From the CEO Haea Te Awa

Jul 7, 2019

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett

With the government’s Wellbeing Budget now announced, we can get on with our own future planning. For the past 18 months we have been working on turning our attention to better positioning our papatipu rūnanga to lead their own wellbeing, environment, and economic aspirations. The idea of regional development has created a groundswell of interest across our rūnanga, with a number readying themselves to lead the way into local investment opportunities. The thought of creating local employment with our own whānau in our own businesses in our own regions is certainly something to get excited about.

Te Rūnanga is wildly supportive of our new direction – Haea Te Awa – “slash the sky from the sea”. The term comes from a karakia performed by Rākaihautū, during his voyage on the Uruao waka – a karakia used to provide a clear pathway to navigate the waka and its passengers safely to Aotearoa. When I think about our tūpuna making that long, arduous journey, they must have been extraordinarily courageous and visionary. I’m grateful that we come from this heritage. The use of the term Haea Te Awa to reflect the new pathway forward for Te Rūnanga is indeed a privilege.

The significance of Haea Te Awa in a modern context is bold and a no-brainer, as we take those next steps forward in creating our destiny, this time back out at the flax roots. It’s time to move away from Te Rūnanga as the centre of all delivery, and instead empower our regions to come up with their own ideas on achieving economic outcomes. While it sounds exciting, there are some words of caution before we all get carried away thinking that we will be the next Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. If you have watched the TV show Dragons’ Den, then you will know that not every idea is going to be a winner, and there’s considerable work required to turn your idea into a successful business. For those of us who have run a business, it’s serious stuff – from the concept to the delivery. Staying on top of it often means a 24/7 commitment. The flip side is that it can also be incredibly rewarding, as it’s an opportunity to have our whānau engaged in what could potentially be intergenerational businesses.

If you are keen to take this to the next level, start talking about it at your next rūnanga meeting or call us in the office. Like our tūpuna, the time is right to start thinking creatively and innovatively. Haea Te Awa is about reaching our full potential by building a regional economy that will be regenerating, inclusive, and productive. I encourage you to give some thought to this, and take up the opportunity when it comes your way.