The Northland Age

Historic moment at Waitangi As new FNDC team welcomed

Po¯ whiri gathering a who’s who of Ma¯ oridom in North

- Susan Botting Local Democracy Reporter — Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Hope came to life at Waitangi as 500 people gathered to pō whiri New Zealand’s first mayor to have also stood for a Māori ward and his Far North District Council.

A who’s who of Northland Māoridom gathered to welcome Far North District Mayor Moko Tepania, Deputy Mayor Kelly Stratford and fellow elected representa­tives to their new three-year term in a formal welcome at Waitangi last Wednesday.

Tepania is one of six newly-elected Māori mayors across New Zealand’s 78 councils, and the only successful mayoral candidate to have also stood in a Māori electoral area — FNDC’s new Ngā Tai o Tokerau Māori Ward.

“I am totally overwhelme­d. I only found out on Friday at 10pm I was mayor and here we are today,” Tepania said at the end of the pō whiri.

FNDC’s new council team — also including Ann Court, Felicity Foy, Hilda Halkyard-Harawira, Babe Kapa, Penetaui Kleskovic, Mate Radich, Tāmati Rākena and John Vujcich — sat on the ātea (front veranda) of Waitangi Treaty grounds’ marae wharenui for the pō whiri. Councillor Steve McNally was absent as he was attending an unveiling.

Crowds filled with kuia, kaumā tua,

babies and students who got up as early as 5am to attend the pōwhiri from as far north as Te Kura o Te Kao near Cape Reinga and more, were among those present — universall­y celebratin­g the huge moment in history represente­d by having a Far North Māori mayor and Māori ward councillor­s.

Iwi from across the Far North were represente­d, pledging their support for the newly-elected representa­tives on a council that is now

predominan­tly Māori.

The pōwhiri was conducted almost fully in te reo, being translated into English by a live translatio­n service via a Kaitāia Māori language specialist present at the event and sent electronic­ally on request to councillor­s and media via a small personal receiving box and earphone.

Whaingaroa kaikōrero (speaker) Raniera Kaeo was one of several speakers who acknowledg­ed the day as history in the making.

“The writing is on the wall Taitokerau. The North is here. Today is history,” Kaeo said.

He said those present had come to witness and be part of history.

Ngā puhi leader Beaumyn Wihongi said the newly-elected council was the future.

“We must follow the sun a look into the horizon to a new dawn,” Wihongi told those present.

“Tomorrow is your day.” Emotion, colour and highly skilled

waiata, haka and oratory marked the pō whiri, as local government history unfolded on the grounds of Waitangi Marae.

Tepania was bestowed the descriptio­n of kahika, the tall and strong native kahikatea tree. His Deputy Mayor Stratford kōwhai.

The important role of the council’s introducti­on of its first Māori ward was acknowledg­ed by those present, those against their introducti­on asked to take note of the overwhelmi­ng support the ward had brought to the council, as clearly evidenced at Waitangi.

Ngāti Hine leader Waihoroi Shortland said the introducti­on of a Māori ward had been positive.

Shortland said elected representa­tives were there for all people Māori and Pākehā and it was time to move on from those who made racist comments about Māori wards.

“Show them the way of working as one,” he said.

Shortland said Tepania had long been a leader. He was fulfilling the wishes of his forebears in his new leadership role.

Tepania’s ability to connect with people in all walks of life showed as he spoke briefly towards the end of the pōwhiri, and those present erupted into cheers and clapping at times as he spoke to those present.

Te Kura Kaupapa Mā ori o Kaikohe Year 13 student Koby Kelleher said Tepania had been an inspiratio­n as a teacher at his school.

“It shows us what might be possible,” the 17-year-old said.

Te Aupouri kaikōrero Eru KapaKingi said the pearl of the light beam was now shining the way out of the darkness to a new horizon.

Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi said the new council showed the importance of voting. The FNDC pōwhiri was held in an auspicious place, Piripi said — He Whakaputan­ga — the Declaratio­n of Independen­ce had been signed on the same site.

Piripi acknowledg­ed the more than 100 kura students from at least half a dozen kura across the Far North who were part of the pōwhiri.

“In the words of Whina Cooper, let our children hear, see and listen to what is in front of them,” Piripi said.

“It is a new day. We must be one — iwi, whanau, hapu,” he said.

“In the old days it was like when the fog has settled upon us, but now we can see the fog lifting. We must uplift our councillor­s.

 ?? Photos / Tania Whyte ?? New Far North Mayor Moko Tepania with pupils from Te Kura o Te Kao at the formal po¯ whiri for the new council at Waitangi last Wednesday.
Photos / Tania Whyte New Far North Mayor Moko Tepania with pupils from Te Kura o Te Kao at the formal po¯ whiri for the new council at Waitangi last Wednesday.
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 ?? ?? The new Far North District councillor­s and mayor were welcomed at a po¯ whiri at Waitangi last Wednesday.
The new Far North District councillor­s and mayor were welcomed at a po¯ whiri at Waitangi last Wednesday.

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