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National Hui Recap

The National Hui was an amazing experience!  So here’s the story, I left Wellington early Wednesday morning with a co-worker for a flight to Auckland.  Once in Auckland, I met about 10-15 staff that were also going to the Hui and we all caught a shuttle to the Orakei Marae together.  In the shuttle, we introduced each other and shared our excitement for the upcoming days.  At the marae, we were led in and participated in a formal ceremony with the local iwi.  The local iwi youth sang waiatas to show their thanks for us being there and we also sang to show our thanks for sharing their marae with us. 

After the ceremony, we moved in all of our luggage and setup our mattresses since we would be staying the next two nights and having our meetings as well in the marae.  There were about 50-70 people who stayed in the marae so our mattresses were side to side.  I wondered how I would sleep with so many people in room and in such close quarters.  After we setup the marae, Wayne McNee, the CEO of the Ministry, gave an introductory speech and answered any questions anyone had.  We then shared our mihi’s, introductions, with everyone.  It was great hearing where everyone in the Ministry was from, what they did, where they came from, and most people spoke in Maori.  I prepared my mihi, practiced saying it in maori, and when I gave it, I think I did pretty well.  It was really difficult speaking the language since I wasn’t used to it, but I gave it a try.  Once the introductions were completed, we learned about the history of the local area from a Maori elder that was a part of the marae.  This was very moving and shocking to me.  I couldn’t believe the struggle that the iwis have gone through to secure their land, and they are still trying to go through the government to be compensated for what was taken from them when the country was founded. After his speech, we ate dinner and then practiced waiatas until we went to bed.

I’m glad to say that I slept like a baby in the marae, well with the assistance of my ear plugs.  But, it was a great opportunity.  I found that as the Hui progressed that everyone came together and it almost felt as if we formed a family since we were always together and doing things so closely with each other.  On the second day, we learned about iwi treaty settlement history, what the Ministry’s Treaty Strategy is and how it is being implemented by the Ministry and about how the Ministry is developing Fisheries Management Plans and Iwi Fisheries Management Plans.  At one point, we broke out into small working groups to discuss various questions that we had raised and then shared our thoughts with the whole group.  Also we took a group photo.  Did you know that in a marae, we sat on our sleeping bags, lay down, and listen.  Sometimes people even shut their eyes.  This is how the Maori people have their meetings, but I thought it was very interesting and very informal compared to any meeting I’ve ever been in.  I’ve learned though that it is a way to show that you are fully listening and giving your attention fully to the speaker.  After all the sessions, we broke into teams and debated.  Even though the issues were fictional, it was a good way for everyone to bond and to learn more about the Maori culture. We also viewed a movie about the local area history.

Overall, this experience was very unique and one that not many Kiwis or others get to participate in.  So I am grateful and thankful that I had the chance to become involved in these discussions and meetings with those in the Ministry.

National Hui in Auckland


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