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Kahungunu joins Wellington Water

Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] unanimously voted for Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a Rua Settlement Trust to become a mana whenua partner for Wellington Water Limited during a recent council meeting.

GWRC said the change also allowed the authority to be represented on the Wellington Water Committee.

The group is the first Wairarapa Maori authority to be represented on the committee.

The Wellington Water shareholders amended the Wellington Water Limited governance documents in 2019 to allow for iwi representation.

Two Maori authorities are currently represented on the Wellington Water Committee: Ngati Toa Rangatira and Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o Te Ika.

Because no Wairarapa iwi has been formally represented on the Wellington Water Committee until now, the chair of the Maori Standing Committee of the South Wairarapa District Council has had observer status on the committee.

Andrea Rutene is now set to represent the settlement trust on the committee.

GWRC said the progress of the Ngati Kahungunu Treaty settlement has enabled the iwi to participate in the Wellington Water Committee actively, and they requested formal membership of the committee last year.

The group’s application was considered at the December 16 meeting of the Wellington Water Committee, and it was unanimously agreed that the application would be recommended to each of the shareholding councils.

All other shareholding councils had already approved the proposal for the settlement trust to join the committee.

GWRC noted that the agreement does not stop the Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitane ki Wairarapa from participating in the committee in the future.

GWRC Wellington Water Committee representative Ros Connelly said she had not initially understood the full complexity of the settlement trust joining the committee.

“Our [GWRC’s] treaty partner is Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, which is different to the settlement trust … we have slightly changed the recommendations because although we are really happy for the settlement trust, we don’t want to close off the possibility that our treaty partner may wish to have separate representation,” Connelly said.

GWRC said being part of the decision-making process upheld the rangatiratanga of mana whenua in the region. “This also connects to the principles and obligations set out in Te Mana o te Wai within the National Policy Statement on freshwater management by actively involving tangata whenua in the lifecycle management of water.”

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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