Murihiku Upoko meet National party leader, Christoper Luxon, to discuss priorities
Tā Tipene O’Regan, on behalf of Murihiku Upoko, met with the Leader of the Opposition, Christopher Luxon MP, and some of his senior colleagues at his parliamentary offices in Wellington on 31 May. Dr Michael Stevens, also from Te Rūnaka o Awarua, supported Tā Tipene at this hui, which canvassed a range of challenges and opportunities facing Murihiku and the nation.
For the National Party, Nicolas Willis MP as Deputy Leader, Dr Shane Reti MP, Gerry Brownlee MP, and Tama Potaka MP, were also in attendance.
This hui built on a series of warm interactions with National Party MPs in recent months; most recently at the Energy and Innovation Wānanga held in Invercargill where an assortment of MPs attended to better understand the region’s strategic priorities.
In outlining a brief history of modern Ngai Tahu to Chris Luxon, Tā Tipene reflected on the tribe’s “political agnosticism” and depth of connection with New Zealand’s main political parties. During his decades representing Te Rūnanga o Ngai Tahu and Te Rūnaka o Awarua, Tā Tipene recalled that it has always been possible to identify shared aspirations with each side of the House, and work with them in mutually beneficial ways.
“It’s important that we - all of us - seek to be constructive, and look for areas of alignment and cooperation. That requires parliamentarians to avoid ‘dog-whistle’ politics, especially in election year. And it requires iwi and hapū to be ambitious for our communities as well as the wider nation we are part of. That inclusive nation-building is very important to Ngai Tahu, and is pivotal, I think, to building a better future for all people who call Aotearoa New Zealand home,” said Tā Tipene.
Dr Stevens highlighted an array of Ngai Tahu individuals and whānau with deep historical connections to the National Party, and even its antecedents. He drew attention, in turn, to a bundle of interrelated initiatives for future collaboration which could extend these underlying relationships.
“There are some important arenas where we can work closely together to enhance not just Ngāi Tahu whānui, and Te Waipounamu, but New Zealand as a whole. Just as our histories are entangled, our futures are interdependent. Increasingly so. Our sincere view is that a prosperous and robust Ngāi Tahu makes for a stronger country,” said Dr Stevens.
An update was also provided on Murihiku Regeneration’s work programme, and the need emphasised for energy transition in southern New Zealand to both benefit the region and be in the national interest: a message clearly received from participants during the recent Energy and Innovation Wānanga.
Posted: 2 June 2023