Media release

Otago Regional Council appoints two Ngāi Tahu representatives to Policy Committee

Wednesday 12 June 2019

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) today appointed two representatives of Ngāi Tahu to its Policy Committee, following a motion passed in the 15 May Council Meeting.

The four Otago Rūnanga—Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, Kāti Huirapa ki Puketeraki, Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou, and Hokonui Rūnanga—nominated Tahu Potiki and Edward Ellison to be their representatives on the committee.

Chair of the Policy Committee Gretchen Robertson said the additions would further enhance ORC’s existing partnership with iwi and inform its decision-making.

“The Katiakitanga (stewardship) function in Otago’s environment will be greatly enhanced by this move. ORC face major policy development challenges, and having an informed iwi perspective in the room with us as we face those challenges is going to be invaluable,” she said.

ORC Chair Stephen Woodhead said the two appointees would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table.

“With the appointments made by Rūnanga, we are privileged to have two very experienced people join our Policy Committee. Having their input early during policy development will be a significant advantage to the outcomes we seek on behalf of our regional community.

“An added benefit is an opportunity to enhance our relationship with local Rūnanga in a meaningful way, and we will take a lot from their input to Council’s conversations around policy.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere, Lisa Tumahai, said this was a good step towards ensuring Ngāi Tahu is properly represented in local governing bodies as a Treaty partner.

“As an iwi, we are firmly focused on the future – not just our future but the future of Te Waipounamu and Aotearoa as a whole. Each region or community needs to work with mana whenua to create a tailored solution that reflects their unique needs and ensures our voice is heard.”

“I have no doubt that Edward and Tahu will make a significant contribution to this Policy Committee, given their many years’ experience representing Ngāi Tahu interests and values at a national and regional level. They have a firm grasp on the cultural and traditional significance of the Ōtākou region’s land, sites, waahi tapu and other taonga. They are men of great mana and will bring a lot to the table – I congratulate them both.”

Both appointees have significant experience in environmental and policy matters, and are respected both locally and nationally for their contributions in governance, Māori affairs, and the environment.

Mr Potiki and Mr Ellison attended their first Policy Committee as appointed members later in the day. They will continue to attend the Committee as members until the end of the triennium.

The purpose of the Policy Committee, described in its Terms of Reference 2016-19, is “To analyse, develop and recommend to Council all strategies, policies and plans, and to assess their effectiveness,” and “To make submissions to other authorities and Government”.

Recommendations moved by the Policy Committee must be approved by elected members at Council Meetings.