Environment Waikato Councillors are enthusiastic to learn more about Maori language and protocol.
This week’s Policy and Strategy Committee meeting heard that an hour a month would be set aside for those Councillors who wished to improve their knowledge and understanding of Maori language and tikanga (protocol). The aim is to provide Councillors with the skills to engage more comfortably with Maori.
Councillors could also join staff in learning waiata for formal occasions such as powhiri, tangi or receiving dignitaries, Tai-Ranga Whenua (Iwi unit) Programme Manager Reginald Proffit said a survey of Councillors had clearly identified a desire for more training to break down barriers.
Chairman Jenni Vernon said a knowledge of Maori protocol was important to the Council’s work and role in the Region.
“There are some occasions where we need to follow Maori protocol, just as we follow protocol in Environment Waikato meetings. There have been times when I would like to sing a waiata but couldn’t because I didn’t know it.”
Cr Barry O’Connor said he wanted to know more about how Maori hierarchy fitted together.
Cr Paula Southgate said she had been advocating closer relationships for the past three years and understanding tikanga was a step forward.
“This is something which will allow really good conversation with iwi. We need to foster this relationship in a meaningful way, and quickly.”
Policy and Strategy Committee Chair Lois Livingston said iwi had a huge job to do under various Acts and it would be good for Councillors to have more confidence on a marae. Councillors had been asking for this sort of training for a long time, she said.
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