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Regional visit to Timaru

Dame Cindy Kiro and Ranui Ngarimu walk on to Arowhenua Marae

Dame Cindy and Dr Davies headed to South Canterbury for a regional visit to Timaru. Their Excellencies first engagement was a powhiri at Arowhenua Marae, which lies between the junction of the Temuka and Opihi Rivers. In her korero at the marae, Dame Cindy spoke of the extraordinary success Ngāi Tahu has had in protecting and enhancing its taonga, and creating opportunities for tamariki and whānau. Dame Cindy and Dr Davies visited Arowhenua Māori School, where the young students performed a kapa haka.

Dame Cindy visited Arowhenua Whānau Services – a Māori Health Provider providing a marae-based health clinic, mental health services and Tamariki Ora. To sum up the significant work they do for their community, it can be described in the whakatauki they in their clinic – “Me mahi tahi tātou mō te oranga o te katoa. We should work together for the wellbeing of everyone”.

That evening, Their Excellencies host a reception for community leaders in the Timaru area, including some recent recipients of New Zealand Royal Honours.

Dame Cindy Kiro and Dr Richard Davies looking at Māori rock art
On the second day of the regional, Dame Cindy and Dr Davies visited one of the sites of extraordinary Māori rock art found across the South Canterbury region. Aside from the physical threats to these taonga, such as erosion and vandalism, one of the major challenges in keeping them protected is the lack of awareness of their very existence. Te Ana Māori Rock Art, the region’s rock art centre, operated by Ngāi Tahu, along with a team of wonderful volunteers, act as guardians of this fragile aspect of our national heritage, and work to encourage people to respect and conserve it for future generations. Despite the cold weather, it was a very special morning, spending time in the company of these works alive with the voices of our ancestors.

Dr Davies inspecting seeds at Te Kete Tipuranga o Huirapa
The day before, Dr Davies had been to Te Kete Tipuranga o Huirapa, which is a native nursery created by Arowhenua, that produces around 100 000 plants each year. It was wonderful to see this kaupapa in action, as many of the plants they grew were planted at Māori rock art sites - part of a project restoring the land to how it would have been hundreds of years ago when the rock art was created.

After seeing the rock art, Dame Cindy and Dr Davies met with Presbyterian Support South Canterbury and some of the former refugee families making Timaru their home. PSSC Refugee Settlement Service provides settlement support to the refugees, linking them with community support and services, so that after a year, those families will have the knowledge and confidence to independently access and use mainstream services. PSSC, with its dedicated team of staff and volunteers, will be resettling up to 110 Syrian refugees per year over the next two and a half years.

Dame Cindy and Dr Davies meeting former refugees in South Canterbury

The final engagement took Dame Cindy and Dr Davies to Maungati, just inland from Timaru, to see the newly unveiled Windhausen Land Girl Monument on the Rongomaraeroa Peace Walk. The monument commemorates the Women’s Land Service members, also known as ‘land girls’, who kept the country’s farms going while men fought overseas during World War II.

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