Kei aku Rangatira o Ngai Tahu Whānui.O tēnei marae ātaahua o Ōtākou.Mihi mai, karanga mai. Tēnā koutou katoa. E koa ana ahau i tā koutou pōwhiri, ki ahau. Kia haramai. Tarere ki whenua uta ai.
On Waitangi Day this year, David and I joined the Ngai Tahu commemorations at Onuku Marae, where 179 years ago, on the 30th of May, HMS Herald anchored offshore, and Major Bunbury came ashore to encourage tribal leaders to sign Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Today, it’s our privilege to be here at Otakou, where HMS Herald moored on 13 June 1840, after visiting Ruapuke, and Hone Karetai and Kōrako added their signatures to Te Tiriti.
A Governor-General cannot visit these marae without reflecting on the links between tangata whenua and Her Majesty the Queen’s representative in New Zealand.
It is one of the great privileges of this role that I am given opportunities to honour the connection first forged by my earliest predecessor, William Hobson and built upon, since then, by the 34 Governors and Governors-General that followed him. I am truly delighted to be here.
At the same time, I can’t help reflecting on what I learned from my experience as a Chief Crown negotiator of Treaty Settlements for Tauranga Moana and Te Toko Toru.
As a pakeha involved in the settlement process, it gave me a better appreciation of some shameful episodes in our history. I only wish there was some way of ensuring more New Zealanders understood the context of the Treaty Settlement process and the history of our nation.
I imagine your tupuna, 179 years ago, signing Te Tiriti in good faith, perhaps with high hopes and optimism, given the prosperous trading relationships that they had formed with pakeha – and I can only imagine their deep disappointment and sense of betrayal following broken promises and egregious breaches of Te Tiriti by the Colonial governments of the day.
I can only salute the resilience and determination of your tupuna – seven generations - who spent their lives and meagre resources in the fight for justice and recompense.
It is because of their efforts and sacrifice, as well as the entrepreneurial skills of Ngai Tahu, that your rangatahi are re-connecting with their whakapapa and te reo, and are being empowered to play their part in shaping a better future for Aotearoa.
They have the excellent role models of people from this marae, past and present – leaders in the renaissance of Ngai Tahu, and determined to realise the aspirations of your communities.
Ngai Tahu’s focus on the long view can be seen in investment in education and training, strategic thinking that spans generations, and a commitment to kaitiakitanga of the natural world.
Last year, David and I visited Te Waihora and saw how Ngai Tahu, working with scientists, farmers, and local government, are helping to restore the mauri of the lake and its viability as a source of mahinga kai.
No doubt you have similar concerns about the sustainability of your food sources in this harbour and the surrounding coastlines.I wish you success with your work to improve the situation for wildlife here.
Yesterday, we learnt more about the predicament of our endangered seabirds during our visit to the Albatross Colony. It was extraordinary to see those magnificent birds and their young, outside of a museum environment, and a sober reminder of just how vulnerable they are.
Next month we will be visiting Mt John, where I am looking forward to seeing Ngai Tahu’s tourism arm involved in bringing star-gazers to look at our pristine night sky.
When I reflect on Ngai Tahu’s economic success, I think also about what I have seen of Ngai Tahu manaakitanga – at Kaikoura after the earthquakes there, and in the extraordinary love and compassion expressed at the Service of Remembrance for the victims of the Christchurch massacres.
Thank you for your manaakitanga today. I wish you all the very best for the next chapter in Ngai Tahu’s story in Dunedin. It is a chapter that I will be following with interest and I look forward to returning to see how it progresses.
Kia ora tatou katoa.