Tihei Mauriora

Anō ngā mihi maioha ki a tātou i tēnei rā miharo; he rā miharo na koutou kē i whakamiharotia ai. No reira e rau rangatira mā, ngā manuhiri no tēna rohe, no tēna rohe, no tēna rohe
Haere mai, haere mai, haere mai.

Welcome to this corner of the Ngāti Rārua rohe, on this special day. Today we witness the end of a beginning.

The beginning goes back as far as your memory permits

  • For some of us it began with the promised opportunities enshrined in te tiriti o Waitangi in 1840
  • For some this hikoi has its roots in the failed promises of the Tenths agreement, and the Crown’s hunger for land in the 1860’s
  • For some the beginning was 1992(??) when a group began steps that would lead to the Waitangi Tribunal, to the Privvy Council, to negotiations with the Crown, and assorted other legal actions

The difficulties we have faced, the costs we have incurred, the trials that we have endured – great and small, fair and unfair, worthy and unworthy, make it easy and tempting to overlook the positives.

Firstly, like many other Iwi who have been through this hikoi, we, Ngāti Rārua, have survived.

Secondly, our tikanga remind us that great contests can lead to great benefits. There has been no shortage of challenging contests- with the Crown, with other Iwi, amongst ourselves- in other words all the usual suspects/players! But we, Ngāti Rārua, have endured.

There are other consequences of the hikoi- not so obvious, but just as important, if not more so.

  • We’ve re-learned the lesson that leadership must be committed, constant, and connected to iwi members
  • As well as hard work and support, important kaupapa require faith and the strength to do what is right for the kaupapa, not what is easy for us as individuals
  • Mā rahi, mā iti ka ora ai te iwi- both small contributions and great sacrifices carry a kaupapa through to its conclusion, and finally
  • Important kaupapa have no endings; they have pauses on the way to higher goals

And so today we pause to reflect and re-gather our resources before we begin to climb the next mountain.

This means shifting away from a focus on historic injuries, but never forgetting our history; and it means looking ahead at opportunities.

  • The apology from the Crown is an essential element in achieving this frame change.
  • The official acknowledgement and record of what happened is important- we no longer have to prove what we have always known, and suffer the sometimes silent and often loud admonitions of forget the past and get on with it!
  • The cultural redress will give Ngāti Rārua statutory recognition and formal access to decision-making in areas we deem significant. Henceforth we will not be debating whether we have rights, but what the extent of these rights are.
  • The commercial redress provides Ngāti Rārua with a platform to re-build our Iwi, and our place in Te Waipounamu and eventually, our place in the world. It is only a platform though, we have to turn the platform into an institution.

I’ve spoken of the challenging hikoi we’ve been through; and I’ve spoken about what this signing represents. Make no mistake, we have travelled a long way to get here. The good news is, we are here!
The sobering news is that more hard work is still in front of us. Hard work is needed if we are to reap the rewards of the future we wish to build for Ngāti Rārua. We invite our guests here to witness this day, and to be a positive part of our future. We challenge ourselves to take an active role in building this future.

Today though, let us enjoy where we have got to and we ask you to commit to a future that does not involve travelling this way again.

No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, arā tēnā tātou katoa.