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Iwi Chairs Gala Dinner 2023

Issue date: 
Thursday, 2 February 2023
The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, GNZM, QSO

Kei āku nui,
kei āku rahi,
koutou nga ringa raupā o nga iwi,
puta noa i te motu.

Tena koutou
tena koutou
tena tātou katoa.

Titewhai, koutou kua ngaro atu nei
i te tirohanga kanohi;
haere atu rā, e hoki.

E hoki ki te kainga tūturu o te tangata
Haere atu rā, e hoki.

Tātou kua huihui mai nei
i runga i te kaupapa o te rā,
Tēnā koutou
Tēnā koutou
Tēnā koutou katoa.

Thank you so much for inviting Dr Davies – Richard and myself, to join this distinguished gathering tonight.

It is a privilege to join iwi leaders from around Aotearoa – and I welcome this opportunity to acknowledge the precious time and energy you bring to the Iwi Chairs Forum, when most of you already have so many other pressing responsibilities.

The last few years have been tough. I imagine the weight of leadership has sat heavily on your shoulders at a time when our whanau and communities have been experiencing such hardship, uncertainty and isolation.

Thank you for the work you do to uphold the mana of your iwi, and for bringing your wisdom, experience and expertise to issues of critical importance to iwi Māori and indeed in many areas such as the environment, social wellbeing and economic wellbeing – with all New Zealanders.

I have some inkling of the frustrations and stresses you might experience, given my own background in health, education, public policy and academia.

At the same time, I hope the whanaungatanga of the Forum has given you the strength and resilience you need to meet those challenges – no doubt there will be odd raruraru but always a desire to find solutions.

I hope also you have had occasion to experience the satisfaction of progress on various issues, knowing you are achieving public good.

During my term of office, my strategic priorities are te taiao, kia mohio ai nga tangata to ara tika, kotahitanga and oranga, underpinned by my commitment to kaitiakitanga, whanaungatanga and manaakitanga – values I see you too have chosen as drivers for your mahi.

Richard’s current work in a medical practice attached to the Auckland City Mission has given me a new appreciation of the complexity of challenges faced by people who are homeless, suffering mental illness and living on the margins of society.

 I understand that you have discussed housing this week, including the lack of accommodation for some whanau and people with high and complex needs, the high cost of living, and iwi housing developments including those on papa kainga to house kaumatua and kuia and pathways for younger whanau to be able to house themselves and their tamariki.

We have seen how recent weather events such as flooding in Auckland, have focussed attention on global warming. I believe we are seeing progress in terms of public awareness about the changes we need to make if we are to address the various existential threats of our age.

The notion that collective, long-term wellbeing should take precedence over short-term self-interest is intrinsic to the values espoused earlier.

It is evident in strategic thinking in areas as diverse as business planning, mitigation for sea-level rise, agriculture, the seafood industry, health, innovative housing and education that better meet the needs of multi-generational households for example.

It is heartening to see the influence of that kind of thinking permeating attitudes in the wider community.

While I do not decide policy as that is the role of Government elected by the people of New Zealand –I can and do, take opportunities to reinforce and encourage those values and behaviours that contribute to the wellbeing of New Zealanders and our natural world.

I welcome opportunities to convene, to encourage and to acknowledge.

In my role, I meet New Zealanders from all walks of life, who often inspire me in their selflessness, creativity and drive, and I am a proud and enthusiastic ambassador for Aotearoa when I represent New Zealanders overseas.

These are all opportunities to share what I learn from meeting a wide range of people.

Tonight, I am keen to hear about your shared plans for the year ahead.

I also honour my commitment to iwi leaders to invite you to a Matariki gathering at Government House in Wellington to celebrate our first indigenous holiday and to try and chart an ongoing mature relationship together, iwi Māori and the Crown.

Last updated: 
Friday, 3 February 2023

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