From the CEO

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu,
Arihia Bennett

Reflections on 2016

As I sat down to reflect on this year my initial thought was how quickly time has rushed by – is that a sign of aging, or is it that I have become so fixated on packing so many things into my life that I have created a new norm? Recently, a wise young person said to me that is OK, as long as they are the right things!

If I think about the successes of this year, above all there are two clear winners that stand out for me. The first is whanaungatanga, with the recent overwhelming collaborative response to support Kaikōura whānau after the devastating earthquake on
14 November. The other is rangatahitanga, the rise of young people stepping forward, engaging, and participating in technology innovation across the wider iwi.

The learnings from the 2010/11 Christchurch earthquakes enabled Te Rūnanga to plan its role in assisting our Kaikōura whānau almost immediately. The response from staff across the whole of Te Rūnanga was awesome. With no hesitation they volunteered, despite the ongoing shaky conditions. I can truly say that I am inspired by this extraordinary demonstration of whanaungatanga that is underpinned by the act of caring for one another. He mihi aroha.

If you didn’t get a chance to tune into this year’s Hui-ā-Tau, you missed a great opportunity to see the rising stars of youthfulness strutting their stuff. and I don’t mean the corporate leaders who can indeed celebrate the annual achievements of a progressive iwi. I mean the line-up of rangatahi (beaming in from across the world) as well as the small group who recently returned from Silicon Valley and NASA to tell us about their future aspirations.

While rangatahi may be hard to get out of bed in the morning, this doesn’t slow them down in their curiosity for connectivity. These days young people are wired – and it is not just for the social connection – we now see an interest in creativity, design, coding, and technology creation in general, and its applicability across a broad spectrum that is not just geeky stuff. I listened with intent as the group of 13 and 14-year-olds presented to the iwi, and watched as they articulated their future innovative aspirations, and at that moment I thought about what I was doing at that age. I remember that I was working in our family-owned corner dairy listening to the American Top 4O with Casey Kasem (which probably explains why I know the words to most of the 1970s hits). These young people are well ahead. Their learning is rapid and exponential. We are breeding inventors, designers and innovators, and it is among them that we will find the creative leaders who will weave our Ngāi Tahutanga fabric well into future. If we nurture and grow these rangatahi, the future of the iwi will be in good hands.

Enjoy, relax, and care for one another over the Christmas break.