Kei aku nui, Kei aku rahi,
Koutou e pikau, e kawe nei i nga wawata, moemoeā mo ā tātou iwi, mo a tātou whakatipuranga.
Nōku te maringa ki te whakatakoto he paku whakaaro ōku I tenei rā.
Tena koutou Tena koutou, Tena tātou katoa
To the esteemed leaders gathered, you whom carry the dreams and aspirations of your iwi and mokopuna for a better future, I greet you one and all. I am pleased to be able to offer some thoughts, but more so to hear of your thoughts around leadership into the future.
Thank you for taking time to join me at the end of your hui, when you might well be thinking about making your way back home after such a busy few days already.
Last year I hosted Iwi Leaders at Government House in Wellington for Matariki. Most of you came and we enjoyed a convivial and historic moment together with karakia, kai, waiata, kōrero and aroha.
I wanted to create an opportunity with this reception to hear directly from you about your impressions of the kōrero here in Waitangi and elsewhere, where your kaupapa of kotahitanga and collective wellbeing has been such a strong focus of discussion.
I am well aware that in any relationship there will be discussions, agreements, and disagreements – and hopefully over time, a deeper understanding will be reached. As the King’s representative, my role is to provide a sense of continuity, stability and unity. In navigating this process, your mature, thoughtful leadership is reflected in the kaupapa for Waitangi this year:
He whenua rangatiratanga, nga rangatira he mahi.
You will not be surprised to learn that research undertaken with Māori leadership has identified five core values at play: whakaiti, manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga and tikanga.
These values have stood the test of time because they enable us to provide mutual support and respect, and thereby respond effectively to changing circumstances, and see challenges as an opportunity for development.
I think back to our tupuna arriving in Aotearoa and the daunting challenges they faced in adjusting to different climatic conditions, plants and food sources. Their leaders must have been highly responsive and proactive to learn from missteps along the way, and decide on the best course of action in terms of the common good.
If you haven’t already done so, you might like to consider visiting the Auckland War Memorial Museum to see Te Ra, the ancient sail on loan from the British Museum. I am proud that Joe Harawira and Ranui Ngarimu, my kaumatua and kuia supporting me here at Waitangi, were part of the delegation to bring Te Ra back home.
Standing up close to this unique taonga is a profound experience. Te Ra evokes our ancient ties to our Pacific whanau as well as knowledge and expertise developed over centuries of adaptation in Aotearoa. We can only imagine Te Ra fastened to a mast, catching the wind and pulling waka across the ocean. We can draw inspiration from the foresight and technology, the learning and expertise that went into both its construction and use as we too chart our course ahead.
At Waitangi, my thoughts inevitably turn to the approaching bicentenary of the signing of Te Tiriti in 2040 – when iwi Māori will be an increasing, youthful proportion of the population. Their lives will be enhanced by your efforts to represent and promote mana tangata whenua and Te Tiriti perspectives at a local and national level.
We do well to listen and learn from our rangatahi. Their confidence and energy, along with their understanding of the times we live in, give me optimism for future leadership.
Tonight, I am conscious our time together is precious, and so I won’t hold up things any longer, except to thank you sincerely for everything you do for your hapu, iwi, communities and Aotearoa, and to wish you all the very best for your mahi in the year ahead.