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A message from the Māori Trustee Dr Charlotte Severne

Mehemea ko te pūtake o te mana tangata ko te whenua, toitū te whenua.
Mehemea ko ngā kaitiaki i ēnei whenua ko tātou
Tēnā tātou e ora nei te whenua, e whai mana ai āna uri
Tihei mauri ora!

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou Pākeha nā Te Tumu Paeroa

This year has been a tough one for many in our communities, particularly those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle in February and other extreme weather events this year.

Just when we were all hoping to get back to a little normality following Covid-19 restrictions being lifted, we were presented with significant new challenges.

Assessing the impact of February's cyclone and understanding how best to support whenua Māori owners has been a major focus for my team at Te Tumu Paeroa this year.

We had a very large job liaising with our tenants in impacted regions so we could fully understand damage to whenua and infrastructure. We ended up collating damage reports from more than 400 tenants! Understanding on-farm impact has helped us enormously in our engagement with local authorities, central government agencies and Ministers of the Crown.

Te Tumu Paeroa also agreed to assess 680 unadministered whenua Māori blocks in impacted rohe; helping to provide a broader understanding of the damage and support needed across whenua Māori, not just the blocks the Māori Trustee provides trustee and property management services for.

We have now completed damage assessments for more than 1,000 land blocks of whenua Māori using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping. This has been very helpful in informing our response as it has not always been practical to carry out site visits. GIS damage assessments are also providing insights into how future extreme weather events may impact the whenua, with learnings on how we can better prepare ourselves for future events.

This year we have also worked hard to ensure the voices of whenua Māori owners are being heard by decisionmakers. Te Tumu Paeroa made more than 40 submissions to central and local government on proposed legislation, regulation, and policies, highlighting the unique position of whenua Māori and advocating for policy that protects the whenua and owners’ rights as landowners.

We will continue to advocate strongly for whenua Māori, and I look forward to working constructively with the new government and Minister for Māori Development to ensure that whenua Māori is protected and enhanced for current and future generations.

We have also been building our capacity to ensure we can deliver on this. A new organisational structure was put in place this year, bringing into Te Tumu Paeroa additional rural specialists and teams into our regional offices. Their current key focus is ensuring the health and wellbeing of waterways on whenua we administer. They are also overseeing a number of improvements on the whenua, some which will increase the financial return to owners.

This year we launched Tū Tiaki, a free online Māori Governance Toolkit for owners and advisory trustees. We are currently working with a number of owners that are on the journey to becoming responsible trustee, and resources like Tū Tiaki support them in their work toward self-governance. We are incredibly proud of this learning resource, a collaboration with Community Governance Aotearoa and Te Puni Kōkiri, and encourage anyone interested in self-governance of their whenua to take some time over the Summer to check it out.

Despite the best attempts of the weather to make things difficult, this year we still managed to hold 267 owner hui. There’s nothing more energising than sitting down kanohi ki te kanohi with our owners. I have attended many such meetings and my heart sings as I see the passion of owners and my kaimahi for the whenua.

We’ve also started bringing together Advisory Trustees to workshop how we can improve engagement with them. This month we met with Advisory Trustees in Aotea and in February there will be a further hui held at Waitangi. From there we plan to visit more regions after that in the first half of next year.

In short, despite testing circumstances, I think we’ve achieved a lot this year and I feel optimistic about the coming year. There are challenges ahead, there always are. However, this year’s adversity has, I believe, made our communities stronger.

It has again been a pleasure to serve you this year as the Māori Trustee. I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming year. I wish you and your whānau a safe and enjoyable summer break.

Toitū te whenua, whatungarongaro te tangata.
Tai timu, tai pari... Toitū te moana.

Dr Charlotte Severne
Kaitiaki Māori | Māori Trustee

Te Tumu Paeroa's tari will be closed from Friday, December 22 to Monday, January 8. 

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