Kōkiri 26 – Māori experience sought around the world

Published in Kōkiri 26, Ngahuru - Autumn 2012

Since the start of 2012, representatives from Norway’s Parliament and a contingent of First Nations peoples from Manitoba, Canada visited the Te Puni Kōkiri Head Office in Wellington.

Te Puni Kōkiri Chief Executive Leith Comer says the organisation receives requests to meet because there is a genuine interest in how the government takes into account the priorities and experiences of Māori as the indigenous people of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“Overseas groups want to better understand the role that Te Puni Kōkiri has in the development and implementation of government policy that responds to the needs, interests and aspirations of Māori,” Leith says. “They also want to understand our influencer role on a national and regional scale, and learn about the challenges and successes faced by the indigenous people of Aotearoa.”

The Te Puni Kōkiri Executive Leadership Team hosted the Norwegian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Local Government and Public Administration in February 2012. The Norwegian delegation’s visit to Te Puni Kōkiri was part of a tour of Australia and New Zealand meeting with government agencies and indigenous groups.

Deputy Chief Executive Herewini Te Koha, with support from kapa haka and our Treaty Relationships team, welcomed our guests.

Around 15 representatives of the Norwegian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Local Government and Public Administration answered a mihi whakatau with a speech and song in their native tongue. This committee is one of 12 permanent committees within the Norwegian Parliament, more commonly referred to as the Storting. The committee is mandated to progress social, cultural and economic issues` for the Sámi people.

The Sámi are indigenous to Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Generations of Sámi, like Māori, experienced cultural consequences of language and culture loss through the education system and legislation denying the Sámi rights to their beliefs, language, land, traditional practices, and livelihoods.

The Committee was keen to learn about the role of Te Puni Kōkiri, New Zealand history, the electoral system and Māori seats, language and culture revitalisation, land rights, and Treaty-based grievances.

“The mihi whakatau really set the tone and spirit in which we entered discussions,” says Herewini. “It was a real exchange of culture, commonalities and differences in indigenous experiences, and how this can be influenced by decision makers.”

If you’d like to know more about:

The Storting, the Parliament of Norway: http://www.stortinget.no/en/In-English/About-the/Storting/

Watch the video “Elle” from Mari Boine’s album, An Introduction to Mari Boine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF8RvYcAwU0 .

This was the original theme song from the movie The Kautokeino Rebellion. This film was based on the true story of the Kautokeino riots in Kautokeino, Norway in 1852 in response to the Norwegian exploitation of the Sámi community at that time.

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