Celebrating the Tuia relationship
Friday 6 September marked a significant moment in the relationship journey between Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu.
Invited guests from rūnanga across the region, Environment Canterbury councillors and staff, and representatives from District Councils gathered to celebrate the relationship between Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu, known as Tuia.
Key to the celebration was how far the relationship has come in a relatively short space of time.
The relationship has not always been one of trust, and it has taken work on both sides to bring it to the point it is at today. Growing significantly since the Tuia agreement of 2012, it is now a relationship based on mutual respect, good faith, and a shared need to work together.
The unveiling of the mauri pounamu
The celebration centred around the unveiling of a mauri pounamu, which is now located in the atrium of the Environment Canterbury Tuam Street building.
The pounamu was entrusted into the care of Environment Canterbury from Ngāi Tahu, under the permission, blessing, and guidance of the Ngāti Māhaki hapū of Makaawhio, South Westland.
The mihi whakatau was provided by MP Rino Tirikatene on behalf of Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Kaharoa Manihera (Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Ngāti Huikai), Bishop Richard Wallace (Ngāti Māhaki, Ngāti Mako) and Justin Tipa (Ngāti Hāteatea) provided the blessing.
Environment Canterbury staff member, Mananui Ramsden - who was on the expedition to find the pounamu – referenced the impact this pounamu will have on those who visit and work in the Tuam Street building: “Seeing this pounamu (when we enter the building) is an opportunity to have Tuia in the forefront of our minds every day”.
About the mauri pounamu
The name of the mauri pounamu is ‘Te Pae i Mārama’, which means the ‘benchmark of understanding’.
Mārama also refers to the bright glow of the stone when found in the Tai Poutini awa (river) and is also reference to the learning that took place for those that went on the journey to gather the pounamu.
As well as being reference to a benchmark, ‘pae’ draws reference to Paetai, a tūpuna (ancestor) associated with Te Wehinui a maomao (the cloak of stars that adorns Rakinui/the sky), which binds this mauri pounamu with the eight mauri kōhatu (rocks) on the Peter Scoular Reserve outside the Environment Canterbury offices on Tuam Street which are arranged in the formation of the Matariki constellation.
Environment Canterbury Chairman Steve Lowndes noted, in thanking the rūnanga, that this pounamu does not symbolise the end of the journey, but is, in fact, a milestone along what will continue to be a strong and necessary partnership journey.
Acknowledging the role of councillors
Ngāi Tahu acknowledged the role Councillors Iaean Cranwell and Elizabeth Cunningham have played as their representatives on the Council, for being instrumental in continuing to build the relationship of trust and good faith that the Council values and celebrates, and that enables the rūnanga and Environment Canterbury to work together.