From the CEO

Dec 18, 2018

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett

It is hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner once again. As we fast approach the end of another year, I find myself looking back and reflecting on these past 12 months with mixed emotions. On a personal level, 2018 has been tinged with sadness and a huge sense of loss, with the passing of my mother a few months back, and the adjustment to a new normal for our whānau without our beloved Pani. Professionally, it is with a sense of pride at the achievements and progress we have made in the delivery of meaningful outcomes for whānau on many levels.

I am eternally grateful as I look around me at all those who contribute to these successes – from those who volunteer tirelessly at our papatipu rūnanga to our dedicated staff who go above and beyond, working long hours, often at the expense of their own whānau. Quite often we forget to give thanks as we are so tied up in manaaki responsibilities, so my heartfelt thanks to you all.

Throughout the year I was privileged to get up close and personal with some prominent personalities, meeting former US president Barack Obama, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and our new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. I can’t deny that for a girl from Tuahiwi there is always that momentary buzz of excitement, but I’m quickly back to reality where my feet remain on the ground, at home engaging with whānau on the marae and in our communities.

Te Rūnanga has set a new vision and direction for the next stage in our post settlement journey – Haea Te Awa. This is our opportunity to think more creatively about the future we want to carve out and is driven by a commitment to regional rangatiratanga – putting our whānau first and creating opportunities for growing local tribal economies and wellbeing led by whānau aspirations. As we rapidly approach 2019, I am invigorated by the new and positive challenges this brings, and will be focusing my attention on ensuring we set the wheels in motion to bring Haea Te Awa to life.

Right now it’s time to take some time out to relax and enjoy the festive season with whānau, and of course make our resolutions and set goals for the year ahead … lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, go to bed earlier, and with something more interesting than my phone … it always seems so easy to write the list, but it’s the sticking with it that is the hard part!

And while I’m looking forward to it, this year will be different being the first Christmas without our mother, but in her honour and in the spirit of tradition, we’ll have our family hāngī as we have done for the past 50-odd years – it’s just what we do!

Meri Kirihimete.