Taking their cue from the wahine tipuna whose name they carry, Te Puea marae has shown true leadership in opening its doors to homeless whānau and those in need in Tāmaki Makaurau. To date Te Puea marae has looked after 21 whānau in just under two weeks and helped other whānau into paid employment. As part of the relationship that Te Puni Kōkiri has with MUMA Mahi, five fathers have been successfully placed in employment with Aotearoa Fisheries as part of the work they do with in South Auckland. Te Puni Kōkiri have also given $10,000 to assist the marae to work with whānau who are impacted by the worsening housing crisis in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Iwi in Tauranga Moana, along with Te Tuinga Whānau, a support services trust, have also come together to help struggling whānau, opening up existing homes to be used as emergency housing for four whānau for up to a year, rent free. Te Puni Kōkiri has contributed $10,000 towards this project and there are plans to make available or build another three more homes.
The government has set aside $41.1 million over the next four years for emergency housing and grants. This will provide 3,000 emergency housing places per annum (around 750 beds) around the country. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is now seeking proposals from providers currently delivering or intending to deliver Emergency Housing Accommodation.
Aotearoa continues to celebrate its 41st Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. This year’s theme speaks of support for people using the language: ‘Ākina te Reo’ – Behind you all the way. Over 4,000 whānau showed their support for Te Reo Māori when they took part in the first very first Māori language parade through the streets of Pōneke. Mainstream media got in behind with increased Te Reo usage in their broadcasts and publications. Technology is another platform to support Te Reo usage and learning; Te Wānanga o Aotearoa now has bilingual printers, and Westpac introduced a Māori language option on their ATMS. There are plenty more examples and initiatives; every contribution lead and supported by individuals, whānau and groups is a contribution towards revitalisation of the language, will last beyond Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
Finally I’d like to acknowledge the stellar efforts of two Te Puni Kōkiri staff who have made tremendous contributions not just to Te Puni Kōkiri but Māori development in various ways across their respective careers.
The Department of Māori Affairs was not Pete Little’s first choice as preferred employment after finishing his five-year government rural cadetship in 1966, but more than 50 years later and nearly 20 different roles within the organisation he has retired. Not a bad innings for a Pākehā boy from Gore who readily admits that when he left Southland Boys’ High School in 1961 he didn’t know there were Māori in Southland other than the guys that came from the North Island to work in the freezing works. While mokopuna, golf and gardening beckon, it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge your tremendous contributions to Māori land development over the years. Initiatives that you were architect of such as The Land Development Operation, had a whānau-centric aim and benefit which remains a focus for Te Puni Kōkiri today. No reira kei te ringa raupā, te ringa toihau e, nau mai haere atu i runga i te aroha me te rangimārie.
He had an instrumental role in the legislation which established Te Puni Kōkiri, and so its fitting that his long career also conclude on another piece of pivotal legislation for te ao Māori – Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Act 2016). Ben Paki has had an illustrious career in the public service including leadership roles for the Māori Trustee, the Iwi Transition Agency, and Te Puni Kōkiri. But with degrees in commerce and law, legislation was the mainstay across much of his life. Thank-you Ben for your service and your dedication. Kei te ringa rehe o Takahiwai, o Ngāti Wai, nāu i whakairohia te rākau o te ture, e wātea ana ināianei hei poutokomanawa mō tō whānau, nei ka mihi.