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Marae-council tie stronger bonds

Carterton District Council. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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Hurunui-o-Rangi Marae representatives will soon have full voting rights on committees and receive payment for attending council meetings and workshops.

The motion, tabled by council’s chief executive Jane Davis, passed in an emotional and unanimous vote on Wednesday.

The changes had been brought forward ahead of finalising an amended Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] that provides for marae representatives to sit on committees and at the council table.

The updated MOU reflects the growth in partnership between the marae and council since it was signed in 2017.

Davis said there was no reason to delay voting rights and payment for the MOU to be confirmed.

Hurunui-o-Rangi representative Ra Smith. PHOTO/FILE

Hurunui-o-Rangi representative Ra Smith [Ngati Kahungunu Ki Wairarapa] said the proposed changes would address issues raised by the marae at the initial MOU.

“We are [now] in the position as a marae working with the district council, where the district council thinks ahead and that there is some proactive thinking, as opposed to reactive.”

He said payment to representatives was council acknowledging marae input and showing a desire to have that input.

“On the marae side, I can only be thankful for that.”

Smith’s voice wavered as he thanked Davis for her support in tabling the recommendations and for her inclusion of Maori voices during her time at council.

Davis resigned as chief executive in March.

“I think it is appropriate to say in Jane’s farewell that we have progressed so much of our relationship with council from the things that she has led.

“I wanted to acknowledge Jane, and it speaks to a part of her class to have the document for your viewing and recommendations today.”

Davis nodded and squeezed Smith’s hand.

Mayor Greg Lang showed his full support for the recommendations.

He said the council’s relationship with Hurunui-o-Rangi was already “golden, and it just gets richer”.

“It’s so important that we move through this together.”

Councillor Rebecca Vergunst, who moved the motion, said payment and voting rights showed not only appreciation but also respect for the mana whenua point of view.

“It’s about being equals around this table and acknowledging that we all add value to the discussion and the outcomes,” Vergunst said.

Councillor Rob Stockley said it was a step in the right direction, adding that maintaining the relationship with iwi was more important than a finalised MOU.

“This whole thing here is all about cultivating this relationship and being partners and equal.

“I don’t see any downside to the MOU taking what time it takes, as long as the relationship continues as it does,” he said.

Councillor Russell Keys said he agreed with the proposal and wished the marae well.

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