Without fail, the eyes of a nation turn to a tiny historic settlement in the North that swells in size every February. The Waitangi Grounds are always a guaranteed hive of activity and expression. And this year the activity came under a korowai of peace, discussion and respect.
As usual at this time of year, Te Puni Kōkiri staff in Te Tai Tokerau were busy supporting the Government delegation during its visit to Waitangi and to the region more broadly.
Te Puni Kōkiri Chief Executive Michelle Hippolite said discussions at Waitangi set a good tone for the year ahead.
“The Prime Minister made a big point about the people holding the government to account, which I interpret as a real push towards achieving positive outcomes for whānau, hapū and iwi,” she said.
“Waitangi Day is a special time for us to reflect on who we are as a nation today. We have come a long way, but there is still more work to be done.”
She said it was also a successful few days in the North for Minister Mahuta who especially enjoyed getting out and about to meet the people who are at the heart of her Māori development portfolio.
“Our Te Tai Tokerau team did very well, especially introducing Minister Mahuta to some of the local people we have been partnering with on some life changing kaupapa in the North. The Minister was very impressed and humbled to meet these whānau.”
The Minister and Chief Executive met with whānau in Northern communities to learn more about the housing, whenua and employment issues that are the reality for them.
“One of the most privileged aspects of the work Te Puni Kōkiri has is working with whānau on kaupapa that help them to realise their own potential," Michelle said.
“There’s nothing like checking your gauge on what is really happening in the lives, hopes and aspirations of our people, than by sitting down and just listening. If we can’t put ourselves in their shoes, then we’re just studying people not understanding them”.
The visits brought with them the spirit of this year’s Waitangi Day commemorations; peace, discussion and respect.