Māori leaders come together in Kerikeri for Iwi Chairs Forum ahead of Waitangi Day

Representatives of the iwi of Te Tai Tokerau welcome iwi leaders from around the motu to Kerikeri.
Representatives of the iwi of Te Tai Tokerau welcome iwi leaders from around the motu to Kerikeri. Photo credit: RNZ

Story by RNZ

Iwi leaders from across the motu have arrived in Northland for the Iwi Chairs Forum.

The hui in Kerikeri comes after the Hui aa Motu at Tūrangawaewae and right before what is expected to be a packed Waitangi Day.

The forum is being hosted by Te Tai Tokerau iwi Te Roroa and Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa.

Iwi Chairs Forum Pou Tangata co-chairperson Rahui Papa said this was the first hui since last year's election and a chance for the forum to consolidate themselves.

"There's an excess of 74 iwi that will be present today. And we'll be talking about how we deal with the new coalition government going forward. Some of the arrangements that we've had over the last 10 or so years, and then how do we plot our pathway into the future."

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, Finance Minister Nicola Willis and ACT leader David Seymour have confirmed they will be in attendance on Friday for a presentation from the forum.

Papa said the Iwi Chairs Forum would have to navigate how to respond to ACT's proposed Treaty Principles Bill, especially when Māori viewed Te Tiriti to be sacrosanct

The themes of kotahitanga (unity) and mana motuhake (self-determination) that emerged from the Hui aa Motu at Tūrangawaewae will be complimentary to this hui, he said.

This year Waitangi celebrations would be focused on He Whakaputanga, the Declaration of Independence and Te Tiriti, he said.

"So it will be those two founding documents that will be the basis really of all of our discussions, any arrangements and relationships will be based on those two founding documents."

Papa said concerns around health, education, the economy and climate change will also be part of the discussions this week.

"Those are some of the things that we think we have solutions for. And given the proper resourcing of those solutions, then we want to work with anybody, not only our government, but with philanthropic sort of organisations to be able to further and advance as those aspirations."