Te Rūnanga o Nga Maata Waka was established as an Urban Māori Authority at the direction of the organization’s elders (Pakeke) who saw a need for a united voice, one that could symbolize the descendants of all ancestral waka.
Because the people associated with the organisation did not belong to Iwi in the rohe or area, they had to find a vehicle which could address their needs.
The organisation had to determine what to provide for the community. We originally chose to deliver education and training outside the normal school and tertiary sector, so became an accredited provider with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. The Rūnanga originally offered music, audio engineering, driving, road safety, and life skills. We now offer even more services as we continue to respond to the wider needs of the community.
The selection of programmes was based on the strengths of the people and rangatahi. Māori are natural musicians and entertainers, Māori were rated among the best drivers in the world and because Māori were survivors, life skills were appropriate options. The Rūnanga continues to offer education and social programmes among a range of other enterprises.
The beginnings were tough going. The Rūnanga had to take the people that not many other providers or groups wanted to deal with (e.g. ex-inmates, rebellious rangatahi, homeless and ill people). As a result of our determined approach, the Rūnanga has developed a reputation for effective and culturally appropriate services to all disadvantaged groups in the community.
The name Maata Waka means for the Runanga the ‘confederation of all tribes, all nations, all people’. The organisation is inclusive of all and exclusive of none. Our vision is to support the dreams and aspirations of our people and to strive towards independence with integrity. This is what the Runanga means by tino rangatiratanga.
The Runanga is a people centered organisation. This is evidenced by our commitment to services which are all designed to enhance the wellness of Tangata Whenua, Treaty Partners and all Nations. The Runanga recognizes that New Zealand is a small country with a fast growing population of many nationalities. This trend is not about to change and the Runanga acknowledges people of other nationalities as an integral and essential part of our economy and community.
“Nga Hau E Wha National Marae is ‘a meeting place for all peoples from everywhere’ and this inclusive and welcoming environment has become a hub for the community with multiple agencies and services working together in the common interest.”
An influential figure in the Rūnanga’s journey was the late Hohua Tutengaehe. His generous and unrelenting contribution together with the support and efforts of many other distinguished elders continues to give the Rūnanga the courage and desire to strive for their independence and acceptance of responsibility. The Rūnanga openly acknowledges the support received from the community and pays tribute to all those who helped make this Urban Māori Authority a reality.
The challenge confronted by the Rūnanga is to unite and co-ordinate as one, Tangata Whenua and all community groups that are socially and economically disadvantaged. The Rūnanga regards the Treaty of Waitangi as New Zealand’s most powerful and unifying symbol and aims through its services, to demonstrate that there is a place for all nationalities (residing in Aotearoa).
As the Urban Māori Authority here in the South Island we are committed to ensuring that our tamariki get the best start in life and they are exposed to all opportunities. The key to success is education, utilisation of the skills and strengths of our people, our Marae and communities. In doing this we are determining our own destiny.
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