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Maori partnership seen as ‘model’

Apr 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features, Student Features

NewsWire finds out how Maori are listened to under Wellington’s regional government. 

aratahimainWellington’s little-known Ara Tahi group is the only one of its type in New Zealand, but what does the group actually do?

Ara Tahi is an advisory committee made up of iwi and Greater Wellington Regional Council representatives.

Two iwi-selected representatives from each iwi attend the bi-monthly meetings, along with a regional council chair and deputy chair.

During the meetings, council seeks iwi perspectives on big issues such as parks, forests and bylaws for the region before it is taken to council or public consultation.

The Ara Tahi (or one pathway) group came about through a Charter of Understanding which the regional council signed with seven iwi authorities in 1993.

“One of our greatest successes has been getting Maori representatives on all standing committees [at the council],” says Ara Tahi chairman Te Waari Carkeek.

Consultation with the group is a way of ensuring iwi perspectives are considered during decision making and can often expose issues which otherwise may not have been addressed.

“Members are independent and represent all Maori views.”

Greater Wellington Regional Council regulatory committee member Nelson Rangi says the council has shown a lot of mana in setting up a “true partnership” with Maori by setting up Ara Tahi.

“The council has shown enthusiasm and a preparedness to consider Maori.”

The committee is working towards a joint iwi freshwater management plan, which is required under the Resource Management Act.

Regional council chair Fran Wilde says the group is an essential part of a relationship which works well for council and iwi, and says other areas could look into a similar model.

“While such a model could also be applied in other regions, it is up to those areas to work with iwi on developing an approach that will work effectively for them.”

Two council Maori liaison officers work with iwi on a day-to-day basis.

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