The Council has created mana whenua positions for two of its standing committees – Strategy and Policy and Regional Services, approving up to two positions on each.
This follows a lengthy period of investigation and discussion with Te Aō Marama about opportunities for involving Māori in the Council’s decision-making.
As tangata whenua, Māori have particular interests in the work of the Council, and the Council has specific statutory obligations and responsibilities in relation to Māori and Māori cultural and spiritual values, plus a long-standing relationship of cooperation.
Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell described the inclusion of mana whenua positions on the committees as another milestone in the Council’s relationship with iwi.
“This is a positive and natural direction for us. Our values are very much aligned with a real interest in long term sustainability,” chairman Horrell said.
Te Aō Marama Inc chairperson Don Mowat welcomed the newly created mana whenua positions. “I see this as a logical step forward in the ever closer collaboration between the Council and Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku.”
The Council’s relationship with tangata whenua o Murihiku began in the early 1990s. In 1993 it was formalised with the Charter of Understanding He huarahi mō ngā uri whakatupu (A pathway for the generations coming through) between iwi and southern councils, which has endured and grown over the years.
Our relationship has continued to grow with various protocols being developed to ensure smooth and efficient processes for plan development and consents management, our partnership in the People Water and Land programme and a jointly funded policy position.
Chairman Horrell said the Council considers mana whenua representation in Council decision-making to be both consistent with legislative requirements and a step forward in evolving our strong relationship with Māori in Murihiku. It continues the philosophy of Te Tangi a Tauira (Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku Natural Resource and Environmental Iwi Management Plan 2008) of te kōura tuia (the golden thread) which is woven through our entire business.
Chairperson Mowat: “As kaitiaki of the land Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku have a responsibility to look after Southland and to protect its mauri for now and for the generations to come. With the creation of these positions on the standing committees we will be better able to assist the Council to look after Māori cultural and spiritual values as part of its statutory obligations. We warmly welcome the Council’s invite to nominate up to four representatives for the standing committees and are happy to see our relationship progress to this closer collaboration.”
Next steps include inviting Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku through Te Aō Marama Inc to provide the names of suitable candidates. Once formally selected and appointed, candidates will be granted voting rights, remunerated, subject to accountability requirements, bound by the Council’s Code of Conduct, and the three-year cycle, the same as elected members.