The Ashburton District mayor and councillors were part of an historic hui at Arowhenua Marae recently.
Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua chairperson Fiona Pimm said it was the first time all four district councils and Environment Canterbury that operate within the Arowhenua takiwā (area) had been welcomed to Arowhenua Marae as a roopu (group).
Representatives from the Ashburton, Mackenzie, Timaru, and Waimate district councils, as well as ECan, attended the hui on a Saturday in the first step in forging a collaborative partnership.
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown said it was good to get mayors from the region together and agree to work collaboratively to honour the treaty.
“Having regular scheduled meetings quarterly will enhance this important treaty partnership,” Brown said.
The mid-January hui was an opportunity to come together Pimm said and for Arowhenua to welcome the mayors, councillors and community board members after last year’s election.
“Arowhenua were delighted with the positive response from the councils and it was a great opportunity for us to get to know our local governors and to hear their aspirations for the communities within our takiwā.”
Pimm said in the past, some agencies have either engaged retrospectively with mana whenua on issues of significance or not at all.
“Mana whenua are keen to engage with councils around a broad range of community wellbeing matters.
“Councils have largely been good at engaging with mana whenua on te taiao (environment) related matters, but Arowhenua is just as interested in collaborating with councils about economic development, tourism opportunities, health, education, and all things that contribute to whānau and community wellbeing.
“We believe by working more collaboratively we can share resources, consider different perspectives, and improve outcomes for the betterment of all whānau living within our takiwā.”
Arowhenua and the Ashburton council have partnered on a range of projects over the years with Arowhenua’s operational arm, Aoraki Environmental Consultancy (AEC), in regular six-weekly hui with council officers.
Arowhenua and all five councils will meet quarterly moving forward to discuss mutual priorities, such as social wellbeing, improving economic wellbeing for whānau, and job creation alongside environment and water related kaupapa (policy).
“We look forward to continuing to work together in partnership kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) to achieve better outcomes for all,” Pimm said.
- Jonathan Leask