Kai Tahu ki te rangi
Kai Te Ruahikihiki ki te whenua
Karanga mai! karanga mai! karanga mai!
Te marae o Ōtākou
Te whare e tū nei- Tamatea
Ko koe tēnei e haumaru i a tātou
i roto i te kaupapa, nāna i karanga;
kia tatū mai ai i te rangi nei;
Tū mai! tū mai! tū mai!
Thank you for your kōrero and your kind welcome to Richard and me. We are truly delighted to be here to acknowledge your long history as kaitiaki of this magnificent harbour.
And as Governor-General, representing our Head of State, King Charles III, how special to be where Korako and Karetai signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi in June 1840.
Thank you very much for inviting me to your Waitangi Day Festival this year.
As it happens, I couldn’t accept your invitation, as I had previously committed to being in Waitangi – but I understand you had record numbers here on the day, and the festival was a great success.
Looking ahead, I hope there will be opportunities to visit the other two Kai Tahu sites where Te Tiriti was signed in Te Waipounamu, and perhaps attend a Kai Tahu Waitangi Day Festival in the future.
In fulfilling my role, particularly in Te Waipounamu, I am privileged to be supported by the mana and wisdom of Ranui Ngarimu. I am immensely grateful, as I know Ranui has many demands on her time and is held in such high esteem – not just by Kai Tahu – but also across Aotearoa.
Last year, I was privileged to share special moments with Sir Tipene O’Regan – when he attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth in London – and when I presented him with our nation’s highest Royal Honour, the Order of New Zealand, at Government House.
I am in awe of what Sir Tipene has achieved in his lifetime of service to Kai Tahu.
His legacy is in good hands, and the increasing influence and success of Kai Tahu can be measured in social, cultural, environmental and commercial terms.
Whether it be the whai rawa scheme, educational scholarships, trade-training and sustainable agriculture programmes; or the commitment to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of global warming; or Kai Tahu involvement in farming, property, seafood, tourism, and retirement homes, your iwi development focusses on collective wellbeing ahead of short-term interest.
Fortunately, that kind of thinking is something that I see repeatedly in my engagement with iwi, the length and breadth of Aotearoa – and I am proud iwi Māori can lead the way in sustainable development.
It is one of the great privileges of my role to be welcomed onto marae around Aotearoa. I hear kōrero about the distinctive histories, culture and aspirations in their rohe. I hear about innovative iwi partnerships and plans for the future, and I see increasing confidence those goals will be met.
It’s my hope that I can play some small part in strengthening connections between our communities, in sharing what I have learned, and taking that knowledge with me when I represent Aotearoa internationally.
In several conversations I have had with King Charles, he has expressed a genuine interest in learning more about Matauranga Māori and indigenous responses to issues such as biodiversity loss and global warming.
Here in Aotearoa, recent extreme weather events have highlighted the crucial role marae play during times of crisis – as well as their extreme vulnerability when they are situated adjacent to rivers and the ocean.
You will remember how marae in Ōtautahi, Kaikoura and as far south as Arowhenua opened their doors to Māori and non-Māori alike following the devastating earthquakes of 2011 and 2016.
No doubt, Ōtākau Marae has provided space for first responders to congregate and organise themselves, as well as refuge for distressed and displaced people – and will do so in the future.
At this time of extraordinary challenge and uncertainty in our nation’s history, I am conscious that I am part of an increasing cohort of Māori leaders across many spheres of influence in Aotearoa.
Expectations are high, but I am confident that we have the talent and drive to keep up the momentum for positive change in the lead up to the bicentenary of Te Tiriti, in 2040.
By then, Māori are expected to make up 20 percent of the population of Aotearoa.
As the Dunedin Study has repeatedly confirmed, so many aspects of our life histories have profound impact on personal development.
There is clearly work to do to address intergenerational inequities to ensure Māori New Zealanders in 2040 are well equipped to fulfil their potential and contribute to the best of their abilities.
I fully appreciate and support the vision of Kai Tahu to foster economic, social and cultural wellbeing – and to focus on education as a tool to unlock potential and grow the leaders of tomorrow.
During my term of office, my strategic priorities are te taiao, kotahitanga and oranga, underpinned by my commitment to kaitiakitanga, whanaungatanga and manaakitanga.
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.
Thank you for everything you do to uphold and strengthen the heritage, vision and whanaungatanga of Kai Tahu in Ōtākou, and I wish you all the very best in supporting your rangatahi and the generations to come.