Ngāti Kahungunu set to host next phase of iwi movement opposing Government policy impacting Māori

The hikoi at this year's Waitangi commemorations.
The hikoi at this year's Waitangi commemorations. Photo credit: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

By Taiha Molyneux for RNZ

The next phase of a national iwi movement opposing coalition government policies impacting Māori will be hosted by Ngāti Kahungunu.

Iwi representatives will gather in Heretaunga (Hastings) to explore the possible form and function of a Māori entity incorporating kotahitanga (unity).

Ngāti Kahungunu chair Bayden Barber said a united Māori movement in the political space was a powerful proposition.

"We have numerous existing collectives within te ao Māori such as the National Iwi Chairs Forum, NZ Māori Council, and Māori Womens Welfare League. They all play an important role, however, we are yet to achieve the kotahitanga (unity) needed to truly influence.

"This government continues to ignore us. We need to come together to change that."

national hui aa motu convened by Kiingi Tuuheitia at Tuurangawaewae Marae in January ignited collective discussion among iwi, which continued to evolve at Rātana and Waitangi celebrations.

Waikato Tainui spokesperson Rāhui Papa said: "We saw the power of a united iwi Māori. We now need to move to the next taumata (level) where we can map out what constitutional arrangements will collectively move Māori to the mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga we aspire to."

An Iwi Chairs forum in Rotorua last month secured the commitment of iwi representatives to work collaboratively and collectively towards the common goal of holding the government to account.

Ngāti Toa Rangatira CEO Helmut Modlik said: "We've done the talking. It's now time to do the mahi and consider what kotahitanga could look like in the 21st century. If we are to truly achieve rangatiratanga as a people, we need to come together."

Barber said iwi across the country had the innovative ability, knowledge and expertise across a variety of specialised fields to create something meaningful.

Ngāti Toa Rangatira CEO Helmut Modlik.
Ngāti Toa Rangatira CEO Helmut Modlik. Photo credit: Alicia Scott - Photographer

"We need to get down to exploring models and we want people to share models that are working, ones we could expand on.

"It's time for Māori leaders to stand up and figure out how we can bring ourselves together. If we don't take the opportunity while the motivations there, nothing will change."

Kiingi Tuuheitia has shared his support for the hui taumata and will be attending the event, which is set to take place at Omāhu marae on 31 May.