Maori, advisory committee have much to offer; Samuels

14 Aug 2015, 2:46 PM

More than a year after its formation, the chairman of Te Tai Tokerau Maori Advisory Committee (TTMAC) says he’s thrilled at the way Northland Maori have embraced the concept.

TTMAC hapu hui RawhitiSome of those attending Te Tai Tokerau Maori Advisory Committee's latest hapu hui at Rawhiti Marae yesterday. Committee chairman Dover Samuels is pictured centre, with hat.

Dover Samuels says the committee was formed as part of the regional council's wish to promote whanau, hapu and iwi participation and engagement in its processes and decision-making and had met for the first time in late June last year at Otiria Marae.

It now boasts more than two dozen permanent members from across Northland and as well as formal meetings in Whangarei every two months, has also held hapu hui at a variety of locations around the region. The latter have included Otiria (near Moerewa), Oruawharo (near Wellsford), Ngataki (south of Te Kao) and most recently at Rawhiti (in the eastern Bay of Islands).

Councillor Samuels says Maoridom has leapt at the chance to engage with council in local settings through TTMAC.

The latest meeting at historic Te Rawhiti Marae yesterday had been attended by about 50 people and had seen presentations from Ngati Kuta Patukeha, Ngati Hine, Ngati Manu, Ngati Rehia, Te Kapotai, Ngati Torehina, as well as by regional council.

"Issues on the agenda traversed a wide range of council activities including flooding, land, river, pest and integrated catchment management, consents and monitoring, harbour development and economic matters, including opportunities and support."

Councillor Samuels says too often media and public attention focuses on the perceived negative aspects of Maoridom, but Maori had much to offer the wider community across a range of areas.

"Too often this goes unreported or is not adequately acknowledged and I believe this is where committees like TTMAC have a key role in that they can open up clear lines of communication and promote not just better understanding, but also genuine participation and engagement across cultures."

Councillor Samuels, who along with fellow regional councillor and Far North resident Monty Knight, was also recently appointed to serve as council's representatives on Te Oneroa-a-Tohe Board, says he is pleased to see the effort being invested across multiple organisations in developing more meaningful relationships with Maori.

The Te Oneroa-a-Tohe Board will jointly manage Ninety Mile Beach as part of a looming Treaty of Waitangi settlement and includes members of several iwi as well as the regional and Far North District Councils.

"It's now well-acknowledged that Maoridom is poised to become an increasingly major contributor to our regional economy as a result of treaty settlement processes," Cr Samuels says. "This is well overdue and it's pleasing to see councils and other organisations increasingly keen to work positively with Maori to advance the economic aspirations of whanau and hapu."

"This is an opportunity for all our communities and all our citizens, whether they be Maori, Pakeha or from other cultures, to work together to make a better future for Northland."