Iwi and hapū leaders from across the Toi Moana Bay of Plenty region met in Tauranga last Friday 3 July to discuss priorities for iwi and hapū post-COVID-19 and how to achieve success for Māori communities.

Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council hosted more than 30 rangatira (leaders) from iwi and hapū across the region, with several representatives able to attend the meeting via Zoom. Distinguished advocates for Māori, Tā (Sir) Mark Solomon and Tā (Sir) Hawira Gardiner co-facilitated a session with the leaders to share their aspirations and priorities for Māori in a post-COVID-19 economy.

Following a formal whakatau, the hui was opened by Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder where he acknowledged the importance of enduring relationships with iwi and hapū.

“This meeting was the first time post-COVID where we were able to get together in the same room and look to the future. We have a once in a generation opportunity to shape our economy and build the resilience of our community with our tangata whenua partners.

“It’s essential that our recovery work harnesses the combined knowledge, wisdom, experience and vision of Māori. We also have a great deal of work to do together in the coming years to deliver on Government’s revised National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management,” said Chairman Leeder.

One third of the Bay of Plenty population is Māori, with approximately 39 iwi and 260 hapū in the region. 

Chairman Leeder said that hosting the forum signalled a meaningful commitment from Regional Council to ensuring that there is partnership-level participation with all iwi and hapū across the region as we rebuild our economy and community post COVID-19.

The iwi-hapū leaders agreed to meet again within a month to further discuss collaboration and unity between the hapū-iwi and all levels of government.