May 16, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Raewyn Bennett, Regional Councillor for Mauao

3 min read

Ko Te Arawa te waka, Ko Ngatoroirangi te tupuna, Ko Ongatoro te Moana, ko Maketu te kainga. Tihei Mauri Ora!

Ko Raewyn Bennett taku ingoa and I am the Councillor for Mauao.

I was born and brought up at Maketu. My marae are Ngati Whakaue, Te Awhe and Waitahanui. My grandfather was Robert Curtis from Rotoiti and my grandmother who died before I was born was Raiha Tapihana.

I married a man from Ngati Ranginui and Ngaiterangi, Wayne Bennett. I mate ia I te tau 2005. We have three children, Natalie, Tane and Pia and two mokopuna, Matariki and Pikirangi. I worked for over 25 years in Maori development issues in Tauranga Moana, mostly in a voluntary capacity. My whakapapa connects me with Ngati Tapu and Te Whanau a Tauwhao of Ngaiterangi. I was Ngaiterangi Iwi Runangas first CEO. I was very lucky to have been mentored by outstanding kaumatua of those times who because I was a volunteer used to share awesome stories and introduced me to politics. (I dont know that that was a good thing)

My mission in life is the independence of the Maori nation.

I believe that every pain that falls upon our children, derives from colonisation and our lack or denial of political power. I quietly pursued my mission to try to resolve that injustice as far as the United Nations, the indigenous peoples forum to be exact. The huge lesson I learnt was from the lady who used to chair the Indigenous Peoples forum, Madame Irene Daes. She was a Greek freedom fighter during World War Two and was an International lawyer. She said to me, it took our people three hundred years to get their independence. I then realised that Maori independence was not going to happen in my life-time, and we Maori had about another 150 years to go. I am happy to step aside with the acceptance of the Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights by the government. It is time for the next generation to stand up and carry on with the mahi.

In Council work, I have tried really hard to protect the Maori seats. I have promoted Maori seats on every occasion possible. I have influence, not because I piss in pockets but because I get out of bed early and do my homework. I put a 100% in to researching the issue, preparing my debate, learning standing orders and the two main acts we operate by, The Local Govt. Act 2002 and the Resource Management Act. I have good analytical skills and can spot an imposition on Maori a mile off. I can be diplomatic or challenging whatever is the best approach to achieve the ends.

I have increasingly come to understand how Councils disadvantage the poor and am taking steps to address this problem.

In fact in the next tri-ennium I plan to make that a mission, as well as ensure that the Maori perspective truly reflects what our people want in the RPS and other plans due to come on stream. The other huge issue for me in the Mauao rohe is to ensure that I assist the Iwi in my area with their Resource Management settlement issues with Regional Council. Eight of the iwi in my rohe are due to settle in the next 3 years.

I love the Mauao rohe because it is so dynamic.

I have a lot of respect for the many hapu and Iwi in my area who constantly battle rip and bust developers. It is bad enough that our people had their land confiscated, protecting the sparse remnants is an ongoing battle. Raupatu is an injustice that keeps getting perpetuated.

I have a B.Soc. Sc (Hons) 1st class honours from Waikato Uni (Majors Anthropology and Education)

To visit Raewyn’s website, please click here:

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