From the CEO

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett

Are we heading in the right direction?

Recently I met the 20 Ngāi Tahu rangatahi preparing to head off on the trip of a lifetime to Silicon Valley. The room was buzzing with chatter until they all broke into a waiata rendition of Manu Tiria. Meeting these rangatahi took me way back to a similar experience as a 13-year-old. The only difference was that we were preparing to head to Wellington to visit Parliament and our waiata was the Anglican school hymn. Roll forward many decades and our young people are international travelling ambassadors for our iwi.

In recent years I have become increasingly passionate about driving our rangatahi into the spotlight, especially when it comes to the future development of technology, STEM and innovation. This is naturally the domain of young people as they are the beacons of social connectivity and are well attuned to using the tools to maximise the benefits that meet their youthful needs.

This is our second group heading off to San Francisco and it is now clear that a rangatahi movement is forming – they are fast becoming ready to tell us whether the iwi is heading in the right direction or not. Having a view and voicing an opinion is exactly what we want as young people should be the designers of their future, not bystanders or passengers, so I am determined to ensure that a one-off experience to the USA is not just a one-hit wonder – we must keep them engaged.

This journey is well timed with the work that the leadership of Te Rūnanga is currently undertaking. Throughout this year there has been a series of wānanga where Te Rūnanga has openly reflected and seriously looked at itself – the good, the bad and the ugly. They have mapped its course over the past 20 years and there is now an invigorated sense of enthusiasm for looking ahead to ensure that we are relevant and adaptable to change. Intergenerational outcomes remain at the forefront and we are taking on board our changing societal needs while preserving and protecting our traditional tikanga practices.

There is an openness and willingness to work together in our communities and this includes finding a place for the collective voice of our rangatahi to be heard and taken notice of. There may be a bit of tweaking required but I feel that the sentiment is positively anchored in moving to a desired future state. We have no shortage of rangatahi engaging across many Ngāi Tahutanga activities so I do see that they will have a critical role to play in ensuring that we are heading in the right direction. A message to all our young people – going through life asleep will not be an option so bring yourselves forward and participate! Tohaina ō painga ki te ao.