As the mists are raising off the mountain, and the sun looks smiling down upon you, turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind.
Te Arawa tena koutou katoa.
In breach of the rules I publish my own account of the Te Arawa Standing Committee because part of my promise was to report back what was discussed and decided within the Rotorua District Council and also, to put forward my opinion on many of the matters raised.
We are the Te Arawa Standing Committee – whaea Rene ‘Buncie’ Mitchell, Roku Mihinui, Waereti Tait-Rolleston, Kingi Biddle, Arapeta Tahana Jnr. and myself – elected in May 2010 by Te Arawa to sit alongside Councillors Trevor Maxwell, Maureen Waaka and Mayor Kevin Winters as Chair.
Our Committee was an idea put forward by Te Arawa elders in the 1990’s to increase participation between the RDC and Te Arawa and for our people to actively engage in the discussion, design and formulation of policy within Council. As a policy student, my role has been to share korero from council discussions with whanau out in the community and to bring some of their take to the councils attention.
This Monday we held our June hui. In good spirits, we opened the meeting with karakia from Mauriora Kingi, Director of Kaupapa Maori, welcoming all together and acknowledging guests and hosts alike Trevor Maxwell sat in as Chair. We were joined by various RDC staff, ready to present, council CEO Peter Guerrin, scribe Rick Dunn, Maori Policy Manager Karla Kereopa and Rotorua Lakes Community Board member Leo Meharry. In earnest, we started.
First came apologies from the Mayor for lateness and a flurry of General Business items, prompting Cr Waaka to interject, reminding all that it was important to follow procedure and submit all agenda items 10 days prior. If submitted early, then the item could be tabled and discussed in full rather than discussed quickly with little time for preparation. It was a small but important point and all agreed.
The first agenda’d item was a presentation by Karen and Kim from the Empowered Learning Trust, speaking on their passion to remove barriers to learning for all tamariki and to improve the quality of life by adopting and applying Irlen Screening. Irlen Screening is a method I was familiar with, having seen examples in Californian studies where an African American man used various plastic colour tint overlays to better engage processes within his brain and increase his ability to read and write. Again, it was something as small as being diagnosed that allowed this man to improve his life and that same passion was being presented to Te Arawa. The first trial in Westbrooke & Rerewhakaitu Primary had good results and a wider sample was being trialled throughout Ngakuru, Reporoa, Broadlands & Waikite schools. A 2010 study found that as many as 50% Maori students screened had visual difficulties and that Irlen Screening could identify, rectify and improve many of our affected tamariki. At a cost of $320pp, the issue of expense was put forward to which the hope was the Community Services card holders could be subsidised but since this Trust was still new, that more work needed to be done. Whaea Buncie added that the Trust had previously received a Community Grant from the RDC. The presentation was greatfully received and a motion accepted and seconded. We hope to keep track of their success.
Next was Mijo Katavic, speaking on Business Improvement & Innovation within the RDC. His korero was about a management style called Lean Thinking which was currently being implemented by Council. Lean Thinking is a holistic management system based on the production methods of Henry Ford and his great car empire. This was adopted by Kiichiro Toyoda who went on to found the Japanese car company Toyota and further recognised in a 1988 article called, “Triumph of the Lean Production System” by by John Krafcik. Krafcik had been a quality engineer in the Toyota in California before going to MIT for MBA studies. Krafcik’s research was continued by the International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) at MIT, which produced the international best-seller book co-authored by Jim Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos called The Machine That Changed the World. This system of Total Service Management was now connecting staff within Council to increase value to Council customers and to reduce waste within. A question from Kingi asked whether Te Arawa kupu had been or would be considered within this method, as a way to whakamana the work and create approachability to our people. We talked about Kaizen events and some ideas for the future, such as an Ideas Bank, opportunities for improved management systems and even a Centre of Excellence for Lean Government. Mijo concluded by saying that Lean Thinking allowed all to see the bigger picture, to better understand each piece in the organisation and implement the necessary cultural changes to reduce waste and increase value. Mean Mijo.
An interesting side note was that both Peter and Mijo refered to the RDC as a ship, a metaphor that immediately piqued my interest as a mokopuna of Te Arawa waka.
The presentation from Paul, the new RDC Client Support Manager was interesting. As a relationship advocate, Paul was the one stop shop for development advice, especially complex developments and was charged to bring together staff within council and developers to better understand the nature of any arising issues, as well as provide solutions. Arapeta asked whether Paul had worked with Maori to which he replied Taheke 8C. Paul was also asked by Waereti whether more work could be done with marae to which Mauriora and Karla agreed they would follow up.
The District Plan Review was next on the agenda as Liam and Paulina gave an update, spoke briefly to some of the major changes and spoke specifically to the lake water quality. In a summarised feedback session, Liam and Paulina talked about some ofthe criticisms heard by the public, namely that the DP lacked a long term vision for Rotorua and raised issues around future zoning, in particular City Centre, the Lake Front and the councils plans for Te Kouramawhitiwhiti. A point of note were changes concerning Marae and allowable activities, and in particular Papakainga Housing, definitely one to watch. Speaking to Lake Water Quality, Paulina and the Mayor confirmed that Council would be meeting with the Te Arawa River Iwi Trust this Friday (15th June) and that TARIT would also now appoint their own Commissioners when considering consents. A good example of developing Co-Governance practices we nodded.
Martin Crofter represented his 3 people crew from the Events & Venues Team. Martins team look to support events in Rotorua, pushing the amount of events here at home from 50 in 2004 to over 200 today. Events helped attract new audiences as much as they unite Rotorua, with lots of variety being promoted. The vision for Martin was for people to Experience Rotorua, to experience great events safely and to encourage organisers to showcase Rotorua, as was seen with the Rugby World Cup 2011. Martin stressed the importance of community engagement but then said Rotorua was keen to grow and hold flagship events that can grow roots and attract national, and even international attention. Events like Mountain Biking have been extremely successful and our cuz Rawiri Bhana got shout outs, as he is working with Council to host a world kayaking event next year. Events like Te Matatini 2013 and the annual Poukai were discussed, with Martin keen to discuss and offer advice to any Te Arawa interested in organising an event.
Annabell was up to korero about Lake Water Quality and monitoring levels. She mentioned monthly monitoring as conducted by Regional Council and then reported on by RDC annually. District-wide indicators include Air Quality, Land Use, Recreation, Natural Heritage and issues of Sustainability. This is significant as the collected data can indicate warnings, signal attention and offer glimpses into the future. I sincerely hope our Committee work with Annabell and support her mahi.
Neven Hill spoke to the pending Gambling Harm Reduction Bill as introduced by Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell into Parliament. The 5 major points to the bill are for councils to be able to reduce class 4 gaming machines (pokies), that proceeds from gambling be better returned to the community, that a centralised grant committee merge all community granting agencies and this would be run by council, that spending limits on punters would be put in place and that money merry go rounds, where profits from pokies would be distributed to horse racing, for instance, would stop. Submissions for this Bill close on 21st June. Neven encouraged Te Arawa to make a submission though when we tried to pass a motion to prepare our own submission, it was curiously denied. Kingi asked if we could receive stats on Rotorua Maori and gambling and questions came up around a casino for Rotorua (which at least one Councillor thought had merit) and the issues surrounding decisions made to benefit SkyCity. Again, interesting.
Neven then introduced the Dog Policy Review. The 2 main areas of focus are no dogs in Rotorua CBD and desexing dangerous dogs. It was noted that 2% of dogs were pitbulls yet made up 20% of the attacks. This bylaw will be debated on 29 June at the Economic Regulatory Services committee and again, Te Arawa are encouraged to make submissions.
We finally turned attention to our Previous Minutes to which the new Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) came up. The Mayor detailed that Koro Toby Curtis was accepted as iwi rep on the appointment panel and that a Chair, John Green, had been appointed as well as 4 Directors. It was then said thatthe CCO had agreed that iwi ought to have 2 directors on the CCO, and that any interested people should forward their cv to Mark Rawson. It was said that some Maori had applied but that the CCO wanted to better match skills with the task. As I said earlier, it did annoy me that despite the fact that Te Arawa resources are at the heart of this CCO, in particular geothermal, forestry, agriculture and tourism, we received a belated 2 seats and that Pakeha would choose just which Te Arawa would be suitable. I had to shake my head at this one.
Mauriora talked to the annual Poukai, its importance to Te Arawa and how funding was secured by Piki Thomas and his submission to cover 2013 – 2015. It was also mentioned how many of the Councillors asked lots of questions around the history of the Poukai. Perhaps a workshop is necessary?
The Naera Whanau request to place a picture of Te Houkotuku Naera, their tipuna and one of the founding rangatira who gifted land to build the township of Rotorua. Kingi spoke in support of placing the photo in the Galleria, Arapeta asked on policy around existing portraits of Te Arawa hanging in Council and Cr Waaka said that perhaps the RDC website would be the most appropriate to place photos. I commented that too few people knew the history of the founding of Rotorua and photos bring those stories to life. Mauriora and Karla would follow up the inquiry by Arapeta.
Talk emerged around Inductions & Orientation, and Kingi came back to a korero raised at a previous hui where Lake Rotorua was refered to as a Monster. He saw Lake Rotorua more as a Jewel in our Crown, and preferred the word Pounamu over Monster.
Then came talk about the Eastern Arterial Route and how the Mayor failed to invite Ngati Huringaterangi, Ngati Uenukukopako, Te Rorooterangi and trustees from Te Papa a Ruamoa at a roading update hui held on 1st Feb. Kingi wanted to make sure that these whanau-hapu would be invited to future hui, to which the Mayor hesitatingly agreed, more pointing to NZTA and Opus. I will personally follow this up as this entire project seeks to dispossess Whanau all along the route even after Government has said there is no money for new roading projects. This project has no heart. Kingi rightfully asked whether our minutes truly reflected what happened at the previous hui, partially prompting me to upload my own version of events.
Mauriora spoke to issues raised by Ngati Tuara Te Ngakau, in particular the transfer station and the Development Contribution charge. Another issue was that of which flag to fly from the RDC flagpole in 2013 came up, which was deferred to Roku for further action.
The report of Mauriora came next and I must mihi to him for all his invaluable mahi done across our rohe. Kei te mihi, kei te mihi. Mauriora attended the tangi of Wally Papa who had opened doors to the RDC in Raukawa territory; he korero with Monty Soutar; confirmation that a skeleton and taonga found in Lake Tarawera had both been interred at Karenga Point; the Poukai; hui with Maori Trustee and Kaitao2C; met Tim from Te Puia; met Lake Okaaro trustees; spoke to Office of Treaty Settlements and Kaituna Co-Governance (with Tapuika and Pikiao); Eat Street developments and an issue at Whakarewarewa around a house preservation. Also tours of Red Stag and the Museum off-site storage were to be arranged.
The issue of the Waste Water Treatment Plant at Lake Rotoiti, Lake Rotoma proved problematic as it was revealed that the RDC would be taken to court, typical of the light the fire and see you in court attitude felt by Te Arawa of the RDC. Joe Tahana had joined our TASC hui by this stage and was very interested in this brief exchange.
The final report for the day was from Karla Kereopa, speaking to developments at Karenga Park in Te Koutu. At a hui held last Wednesday, Karla talked about the engineers who came to answer questions from concerned residents (also much love to Buncie, Kingi, Karla and Jill Campbell for all their work); the next kaupapa was around Civil Defence and Te Arawa, with Karla looking to work with MOU Protocol partners, in particular Ngati Rangiwewehi, who had identified Civil Defence in their future plans.
Quickly and quietly, a few lines were mentioned about how to conduct a poll within Council and we immediately saw that if TASC wanted to see Maori wards, then we needed to gather at least 3000 signatures. Personally, I see that Te Arawa have very little say at the top table as the majority Pakeha rule remains and have found that Maori Councillors tend to favour their Pakeha constituents who voted them in. Maori wards would force change by increasing direct Te Arawa engagement, lifting Maori voter participation and demonstrating just how important Maori are to Rotorua. While Maori constitute 36% of the total population of Rotorua, that is not reflected in Council so for a few of us, Maori wards will be actively pursued.
Kingi asked for better signage on Lake Rd during the current road project while Cr Waaka sought support for a relationship negotiation process. Arapeta ended our hui by asking for more information about the Abatement Notice served on the RDC.
My concluding remarks are that if we want to be better represented, Te Arawa needs to meet together and talk away from Council – to identify our wants and needs, to set our priorities and to support our own teams of focus, research and hapu discussion. While we acknowledge Rotorua is only part of Te Arawa, what we do has major impacts internally and externally. How do we encourage interaction with our whanau at Maketu, in Taupo? What political platforms are being created for rangatahi to aspire too and why aren’t Te Arawa allowed Maori wards when we know that the majority will always out-vote the minority, us? These are powerful discussions yet to be had and we look forward to sharing our korero with you.
A ha Te Arawa e! E!
A ha Te Arawa e! E!
Ko te whakaariki, ko te whakaariki!
Tukua mai ki a piri, tukua mai ki a tata
Kia eke mai, i runga ki te paepae poto a Houmaitawhiti!
He Mokopuna a Te Arawa
I will upload official minutes as soon as I receive them.
Our next TASC hui is scheduled for Monday 16 July.