• Video: Ngāti Kahungunu keen to engage Government ministers in a bid to move forward

Video: Ngāti Kahungunu keen to engage Government ministers in a bid to move forward

Ngāti Kahungunu is keen to engage Government ministers, including Winston Peters and David Seymour, in a bid to move forward with some common understandings, says Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Executive Chair Bayden Barber.

Barber was speaking to Hawke’s Bay App after a national hui of unity organised by Māori Kiingi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaaruawaahia at the weekend attracted tens of thousands from around the country.

The Māori King called the hui in response to the new National Party-led Government’s stance on the Treaty of Waitangi and other Māori policies. Barber led a delegation from Ngāti Kahungunu.

He said he felt the national hui went very well.

“Thousands of Māori whanau, hapu and iwi all converging on the one place, the home of the Kingitanga at Turangawaewae. It was great.”

“I think the numbers, the signal of solidarity, unity and kotahitanga, that in itself sent a strong message to the government. But on top of that, you had the korero and the wananga that took place as well.”

In preparation for the national hui, Ngāti Kahungunu had held its own hui at Waimarama Marae where iwi members came up with their own plan.

“I think there are a number of resolutions that came out of the workshops. And we had already had our meeting. We had our meeting in December, so we came with a number of motions that Ngāti Kahungunu put on the table at Turangawaewae, and so did some of the other iwi.”

“I think we will have an action plan. The government's got their one-hundred-day plan. We've got our one-hundred-day plan as well. And so, I think they'll pull that together with the feedback that they got at the meeting, and we'll move forward. “

Barber says Māori have an opportunity to reinforce their messages in the next few weeks, starting with the annual celebrations at Rātana today and then Waitangi Day on 6 February at Waitangi.

He said it was difficult to predict how the Prime Minister Christopher Luxon would be received at Waitangi with previous Prime Ministers having been met with protests.

However, Barber does believe Luxon missed an opportunity to meet with Māori leaders at Turangawaewae Marae.

“Definitely a missed opportunity. And they don't really even have to talk. They could have just been there and listened, use their ears, read the room, get a feeling for what's top of mind for iwi Māori. Yeah, I think it was a missed opportunity. But Tama Potaka [Minister of Māori Development] was there, which was good. One of his ministers was there, maybe a couple of them, and so they can pass on what they heard.”

Barber says that apart from the efforts that Māori were making at a national level, Ngāti Kahungunu had its own plans. This had begun already with Barber holding a meeting with the Minister for Children and Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Karen Chhour of ACT.

“I had a meeting with the new minister. We invited her into our iwi office and we had a good meeting. But I told her: ‘Hey, I don't like the fact that you're looking to review the Section 7AA clause, which is all about Māori connection with iwi and helping these Tamariki that have been uplifted reconnect with their whakapapa.’ So I was able to say that to her face to face, and we were able to get some common understanding about where Ngāti Kahungunu sits.”

“I've had a conversation with the Prime Minister, and I'm looking forward to having conversations with all the senior ministers, Winston Peters and David Seymour, the whole lot. Come to Kahungunu, let's have a korero and let's see where we can move forward on some common understandings.”

For Barber, the most important thing to come out of the weekend’s hui was the unity and the Kotahitanga.

“Yes, we have some beef with this government and we will need to take them to task, especially on wanting to review the Treaty and pull out principles according to the ACT Party. I mean, there's no way we would ever agree with that. And then, without even talking to the Treaty partner. The Treaty was written in te reo Māori. That's what our ancestors signed. And so we have our interpretation of the Treaty is what has been there for 183 years. So we were totally opposed to that.”

“And then, out of that falls all the other things that they wanted to take out of current policy, Te Reo Māori, Te Mana o te Wai, Māori Wards, and the list goes on. But I think the big message was, hey, yep, we're going to have governments come and go, but how do we strengthen ourselves as Māori? How do we pull our best out of ourselves, talents, resources, things that bind us, our whakapapa, our history? How do we best pull those things out to keep us strong?”

Barber is under no illusion that there is a tough road ahead to reach an understanding with the present Government.

“I think it's going to be a hard road. I've seen the rhetoric and some of the responses from the politicians. They seem to think that they're on the right track. So I don't know. We'll have to wait and see what happens at Rātana and then up at the Treaty grounds.”

“But I personally think it's going to be a hard road to toe, but it's not a sprint, we've just started. We get our action plan together, and then we need to be doing things in our own communities, on our own marae and our own iwi, Kahungunu, that show that, hey, we are the Treaty partner. We have a lot to offer this country, and we can stand on our own mana motuhake, rangatiratanga.”

“That's what our ancestors signed up to. My own ancestor, Harawira Mahikai Te Tatere, signed the Treaty. So I'm a product of those that signed the Treaty.”

Barber says they want to move forward.

“It was pretty exciting. I'm really excited about the future and looking forward to paving that way together.”