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Committed to the KIIngitanga

Creating a thriving self-sufficient people who are committed to the Kiingitanga is the vision for Waikato.

Our blueprint for development is called Whakatupuranga 2050 and focuses on being the masters of our destiny through investment in marae, whaanau and hapu.

Donna Flavell believes COVID-19 has clarified what’s important – increasing capacity and sustainability of whaanau and marae.

“creating a dependency model doesn’t work for anybody, so how do we change that flip that on its head?, how do we provide the right support systems to  our whaanau, to lead and determine what’s right for them.”

There’s been no lack of effort by the trust.

It ran homeownership workshops and financial literacy courses for more than 1200 people. Fifty brand new homes in Hamilton East were built for purchase by tribal members at Te Kaarearea, a residential project established by it with Tainui Group Holdings and the Housing New Zealand Corporation. Other housing projects are also in the pipeline.

In 2019 the trust arranged apprenticeships for more than 60 tribal members and placed 214 tribal members in jobs. Grants were also made for medical treatment, kaumātua, environmental programmes and education.

Communications and engagement is also a key area of its work.

Now the aim is to help the 68 marae, 33 hapū and 76,000 members of Waikato-Tainui realise their ambitions.

“That’s the challenge in front of us, said Donna. “how do we create a system where the wealth is not just in the centre of us as an organisation but … creating wealth at a marae level and they are self-sufficient?”

Te Whakakitenga chair, Parekawhia McLean says the vision for the next 30 years is of a culturally connected and committed people.

“When I think of Whakatupuranga 2050 I think about the outcome what is that we want to see in our tribal members and so it’s very clear what that is. ‘I’m committed to the Kiingitanga, fluent in te reo Maaori strong in my tikanga,  environmentally conscious, well educated, healthy and so on,”

“Some of those aspirations can apply to any other iwi across the motu. what is very different though for Waikato-Tainui is our kaitiakitanga role, and  stewardship role we have towards the Kiingitanga so that does distinguish us.”

Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga student Ora Kihi performs the haka celebrating the signing of the Raupatu settlement deed in 1995.

Huntly’s Ora Kihi, a school teacher at Te Wharekura o Raakaumangamanga, embodies this vision.

He was raised in the values of the Kiingitanga by his parents and grandparents. As a student at the kura in 1995, he performed with the Taniwharau kapa haka at the signing of the Waikato Raupatu settlement and vividly recalls Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu and Sir Robert Te Kotahi Mahuta signing of the deed of settlement.

“As I look back on it now I feel really fortunate to be a part of that and to actually tell the story and as a teacher at Te Wharekura o Rakauamanga to see ngaa hua and the fruits that have come from that.”

Kiingi Tuuhetia pictured with the overall Tainui Games 2020 winner Tuurangawaewaewae marae representative Hinerangi Raumati-Tu’ua 

In February, the Tainui Games attracted thousands of tribal members representing their marae in competitive events.

Muruwhenua Muru captained the Nga Tai e Rua marae mixed touch team which made it to the finals, notching 5 out of 5 wins in the preliminary round. Muruwhenua said representing his whānau and marae was important to him.

“My goal is to show my tamariki the way, to come back to the marae and come and do the ringawera job and do anything to keep the marae strong.”

Twenty-five years after the signing of the first modern-day Treaty of Waitangi settlement, is an opportunity to reflect Waikato’s achievements.

The negotiating principle for the claim was, “I riro whenua atu, me hoki whenua mai, ko te moni hei utu mō te hara.” Those who drove the claim knew the cultural and commercial value of land and aimed to increase the tribal estate with each generation.

However the relativity clause, brokered by Sir Robert Mahuta in 1995, was the masterstroke of the settlement.

This future-proofed our settlement by ensuring that every five years the Crown maintains the proportion of the Waikato-Tainui settlement at 17% of all Treaty of Waitangi settlements, up to the year 2045. To date an additional $290 million has been paid to the tribe, funds that are earmarked for future generations.

By growing settlement land endowments and diversifying investments, an asset base of $1 billion has been laid for the future. The proposed Ruakura inland port has huge potential, as do land endowments at Rotowaro and Meremere in returns and employment over the next 50 years.

The tribe’s influence in business and trade within the wider Waikato region is strong now as it was when the British settlers first arrived in the 1830s. No major business entity comes into the Waikato without engaging the tribe as a potential business partner.

Our role as kaitiaki means a co-management role in the health and wellbeing of our ancestral waterway, the Waikato River, with a long-term plan to restore it to its former glory.

Legislation enshrined in the Waikato River Settlement Act ensures Waikato-Tainui are also decision-makers, as demonstrated over Auckland’s water crisis.

The tribe has also invested heavily in education.

Since 2003, more than $14 million has been received by thousands of tribal members in grants and scholarships to pursue education pathways and careers. Waikato-Tainui now has almost 100 doctoral graduands, an impressive feat when compared to the number of doctorates that could be counted on one hand in 1995. The Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development at Hopuhopu is also being developed as a centre for those keen to pursue postgraduate study.

Claims have yet to be settled for the Kawhia, Aotea and Raglan harbours and the Maioro-Waiuku and East Wairoa land blocks.

These ‘Wai 30 Outstanding Claims’ were set aside for separate redress to the raupatu and Waikato River claims. Several individual Waikato-Tainui claims—called the ‘Waikato-Tainui Remaining Claims’—will also be resolved.

The sacred house of Pootatau Te Wherowhero remains intact 162 years since the mantle of the Kīngitanga was established, enduring the impact of a global pandemic and safe-keeping our future with strategies such as Whakatupuranga 2050.

This tongi of Kiingi Tuuheitia offers final wise advice,

“Amohia ake te ora o te iwi ka puta ki te wheiao – Protecting the wellbeing of the people is paramount.”