Working with iwi
The Charter of Understanding sets the framework for developing the relationship between Greater Wellington and region's iwi. It is currently under review. A main driver of the review was a significant increase in representation and engagement between iwi and Greater Wellington.
Greater Wellington has been developing ways in which to raise the level of understanding of councillors and council staff in matters Māori and that of iwi in Council business. This is being achieved through a number of initiatives including workshops, joint discussions and training for iwi, staff and councillors.
The following sections provide an outline of some of these initiatives and the benefits they bring to council and iwi alike.
Greater Wellington runs four to five workshops a year for regional councillors in matters Māori. This can range from discussions on specific Māori protocols, workshops on the Treaty or discussions on changes to legislation that affects Māori, e.g. Local Government Act 2002. Councillor training draws on people proficient in these areas such as legal advisors, central government staff and other professionals.
Another way in which Greater Wellington tries to meet with and understand better the tangata whenua of the region is to hold an annual walkover of a tribal rohe (area). This provides an opportunity for councillors to meet directly with iwi to discuss council business and topical issues. It also provides an opportunity for both parties to view council initiatives within the area and any relevant iwi projects. This ensures that iwi and council meet kanohi te kanohi (face to face) and rangatira te rangatira (chief to chief) where the elected representatives of the region can meet and discuss matters with iwi kaumatua.
The first walkover was held in the Wairarapa in September 2002 with local iwi Rangitaane o Wairarapa and Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Greater Wellington councillors and staff joined iwi representatives and local hapu to visit some of the completed iwi projects in the Wairarapa area.
Each year Greater Wellington (GW) holds five technical workshops with iwi representatives that looks at a specific role or responsibility of Council and how it relates to the iwi of the region. This provides an opportunity for Council staff to discuss their duties and ask iwi what issues are important to them. In the past, iwi technical workshops have included a vast array of topics including: water supply, the regional transport strategy, changes to the Local Government Act 2002, review of the Parks and Reserves Management Plan and gravel extraction.
This was the third technical workshop of the year. The workshop was held at Papawai Marae, just east of Greytown and was attended by the iwi representatives and GW staff. The hui commenced with a traditional welcome by the tangata whenua (Papawai Māori).
The iwi reps were given presentations of GW operations by Wellington and Wairarapa staff. Topics included the legal obligations of regional council in terms of monitoring and licensing as well as discussion on the different approaches to gravel extraction in the Wairarapa, Wellington and Kapiti coast.
The workshop then proceeded to the Waiohine River for a site visit. Wairarapa engineer, Michael Hewison explained how gravel management maintained the health of the river and how engineering methods were employed to help protect private land alongside our river ways.
The group took in three sites along the river before returning to Papawai for lunch and the last presentation from Stephen Thawley (Consents Wairarapa Division) who spoke on the establishment of the Gravel Guardians group.
The Gravel Guardians are made up of representatives of Rangitaane o Wairarapa, Ngati Kahungunu, Greater Wellington and Federated Farmers. The group's purpose is to monitor the effectiveness of gravel extraction in the Wairarapa. One of their future responsibilities will be looking at the implementation of a Waahi Tapu database for the Ruamahanga river system. The Ruamahanga River system is extensive and covers 343,158ha and includes six rivers with a total length of 428.6 km.
The workshop finished with a karakia (prayer) before most staff and Iwi enjoyed a personal tour of this historic marae. Papawai was of course famous as the site of the first Maori Parliament.