The Office of Upoko provides a mana to mana interface that supports Chairs, leaders and rangatahi.
The position of Upoko is an enduring form of customary leadership within Ngāi Tahu (Ngāi Tahu Settlement Act).
The authority of Upoko is captured in the following pēpēhā:
The pēpēhā by Te Matenga Taiaroa of Kāi Te Ruahikihiki, who declared his authority in Te Waipounamu:
Ko au te Upoko me te hiku o tōku motu
I am the head and tail of my island
The pēpēhā by Ngāi Tūāhuriri Upoko Pita Te Hori:
I ahu mai ōku ture i tōku tipuna i a Tūāhuriri
My laws come from my ancestor, Tūāhuriri
Duties of Upoko
- Atawhai the people, protect their rights and maintain harmony within the tribe;
- Determine and represent the obligations of ture-wairua;
- Be the active face of the rangatiratanga and mana of Ngāi Tahu and its engagement with the Crown;
- Maintain and actively assert the customs (kawa, tikaka, riteka and ture) and traditions of mana atua, mana takata and ariki tapu;
- Act as Ngāi Tahu representatives for treaties and covenants held with the Crown;
- Protect the tribe from the predations of other iwi;
- Maintain the authority of the ancestors of Ngāi Tahu in Te Waipounamu; and
- Protect the reserves and their usage, kainga nohoanga, mahinga kai and the obligations of Ngāi Tahu to Raki and Papatūānuku.