A Way Forward for Aotearoa New Zealand
Four critical themes for the future of New Zealand are The Treaty, the changing community, the future challenges and achieving Kotahitanga-Unity in an every-changing enviornment.
The opportunity to provide some personal reflections and contribution to a future New Zealand context is an opportunity which I welcome. When first approached, I was reminded of an earlier occasion, alongwith a cross-section of New Zealanders when I was asked to reflect on my whanau journey from the time that the Treaty of Waitangi was executed in 1840, through to the 1990 Celebrations on the Signing of the Treaty. That journey was through both my Mâori, and European ancestry, and the resultant publication: 1840-1990- The Long White Cloud provided an insight into the multiple threads and realities that have provided the canvas to our lives over that 150 year span.
That stated, this current contribution in 2005 is as much a reflection of the tremendous changes that have occurred, as it is a subjective insight into the new pathways forward. I am hopeful that there will be some aspects of this overview that stir the mind to new challenges and possibilities in pursuit of this notion of renewal and nationhood.
I would find it helpful to identify four central themes as critical, in my view to the future debate that is integral to ANEW NEW ZEALAND.
From my perspective these themes are:
The place of the Treaty in the New Zealand context
The changing community
The future challenges
Achieving Kotahitanga-Unity in an ever-changing environ
The place of the Treaty and its importance to all New Zealanders is my starting point. How to maintain respect for the founding document of our nation is
something that I reflect on daily. In particular I have real concerns that the
authentic historical journey from 1840 that we have all traversed is still, in 2005 not fully appreciated, understood or respected. Few would dispute that the Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document and that over 500 chiefs and representatives of the British Crown proceeded to execute the document.
In the Treaty journey and debate we have all come a long way since 1840. Even I have been enlightened over the last week to sight for the first time,copies of the original nine Waitangi Sheets of the Treaty document that were provided to officials and church representatives to traverse the land and obtain more signatures from chiefs across the country. What this highlights is that
Treaty knowledge needs to be known by all of us through our homes, our schools and our communities of interest.
If we could better understand what did occur in the historic lead-up to the 6th February 1840, and following that event then to my mind that should give us all cause to reflect on the importance of this document both now and in the future. The Treaty of Waitangi Information Programme, and educational programmes that extend our current understanding on the Treaty and its place in our lives is a vital element in enabling all of us to renew our commitment. The Celebration of the Treaty of Waitangi, I believe, as an annual event is an affirmation of our nationhood. I personally would like to continue to see regional events and focus on the Treaty across the country. For this is how the Treaty can continue to speak to us. But it should not in my view but just through exclusive one-off events. I think that more effort is required in the educational arena throughout the year.
The changing reality of the New Zealand Community is something which I have noted over the last twenty or so years in particular. As I look around my whanau it is clear that we are largely a youthful mix of whanau members who are under 25 years of age but who are part of a larger population that is very different and in an older age category. I wonder if there is enough capacity for the Mâori part of me to met the challenges that the country’s economy will require to keep us all moving forward.
The multiple interests that reside in this country have not been a focus of concern for me personally as I have always considered that our nation is a nation of migrants. I do not feel overwhelmed by the divergent interests that live in my neighbourhood, and my personal heritage is a mirror reflection of this reality. For myself, I have always celebrated diversity and will continue to do so.
The future challenges to my mind are around ensuring that the participation of all of us to secure sound economic development and opportunities for this country. That future will not be achieved in isolation as the global canvas and village of which we are a part requires all of us to be looking trans-nationally and wider when we are considering what to do next.
In March of this year, I was honoured to have a facilitation role in the Hui Taumata – The Mâori Economic Summit. Where we have participated as Mâori in the economic sphere – has been through Farming, Fishing and Forestry largely, and I am confident that this will continue to add value to the New Zealand economy. However it was exciting to enter into a debate on the Creative Sector, Film and Fashion Technology and to consider just how these areas could be developed.
Achieving Kotahitanga – a sense of unity for me is an important consideration when I reflect on a future New Zealand. I would like the seeds of this to come from within the flaxroots of this country. But it is not about unity at all costs – quite the contrary. I am a strong advocate for affirmation of what I see developing through diverse communities, be it traditional or innovative.
At the same time, I consider that a strong Mâori culture and identity is an excellent portent for the future New Zealand. Embracing that part of our being will be a vital next step for all New Zealanders. Late last year, I was honoured to be an adjudicator for the New Zealand Power List, and it was a process of validation of the leadership that mirrors this country. That leadership is transformational and forward-thinking and tells me that we are on the right pathway to a mature nation.
At the same time, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the paradigms of leadership and the core values that underpin that leadership have followed diverse pathways. The Mâori Pathway to Leadership has been the subject of much debate and discourse both in terms of the Marae context and in the written domain.
Studies of Mâori Leadership, such as that undertaken by Api Mahuika’s discourse in Te Ao Hurihuiri on Leadership: Inherited and Achieved, have reminded me of the significant differences in emphasis, in the application of commonly accepted views of leadership at a tribal level. The place of the rangatira and the seniority accorded to the most senior family in that traditional society was clearly acknowledged, both historically in relation to the descent from the founding ancestor and in the modern domain through achieved leadership. The qualities of mana and tapu, akin to power, prestige and personal sanctity are integral components of Mâori Leadership. As I look across the Mâori domain, the leadership of King Koroki, Te Puea Herangi, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, I have studied because of my whakapapa linkages to the Kingitanga through both my grandparents. Over the last two decades, the sphere of influence and guidance of Dame Whina Cooper, Sir James Henare and John Rangihau are examples of that quality leadership and the mentoring and guidance that they have had over my life and education in Te Ao Mâori. Through each I have learnt much about Mâori Leadership and I have still much to learn on my personal journey into Te Ao Marama.
Some Final Comments
It is always a positive thing to reflect and to introspect on where we have been and where we are going to. Equally it is important that we have catalysts that encourage us to think about things in a different way. Anew New Zealand is one such endeavour that would seek to encourage a value restatement and paradigm shift as to the how and what it is that we want to be. This is timely and I would welcome an opportunity which may well lead to a wider debate because it is through “ turning to one another and simple conversations that we restore hope to the future”.
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