Mana whenua reps join Environment Southland committees

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    ENVIRONMENT Southland (ES) welcomed four mana whenua representatives to join two of its council committees last week.

    The council made a decision three years ago to establish opportunities for formal appointments to two standing committees, to strengthen relationships with the local iwi, Ngai Tahu.

    At a full council meeting last week, mana whenua representatives Stewart Bull and Ann Wakefield were appointed to the strategy and policy committee while Gail Thompson and Estelle Pera-Leask were appointed to the regional services committee.

    ES chairman Nicol Horrell described the inclusion of the mana whenua positions on the committees as another milestone in the council’s relationship with iwi.

    “We are pleased to welcome four representatives who will strengthen the council’s governance and bring new perspectives and experience to the committees,” Mr Horrell said.

    The nomination of mana whenua representatives to ES standing committees was the outcome of the relationship between Te Ao Marama Inc, the resource management of Kai Tahu runaka, and Environment Southland.

    Mana whenua representatives made their declarations and expressed their gratitude and excitement in joining the council over an online meeting.

    Mrs Wakefield said she was reminded of the long history of Ngai Tahu in the south. “[This is] groundbreaking and progressive in our relationships with our Te Tiriti partner.

    “It is a testament to our environmental entity Te Ao Marama and Environment Southland that we take another step forward together towards true co-governance.”

    To have the opportunity to actively participate and contribute to the strategy and policy committee enabled iwi to have a real voice and be a part of the design phase, she said.

    Representatives will be granted voting rights, remunerated, subject to accountability requirements and be bound by the council’s code of conduct.

    The new committee members will serve a three-year cycle, which will fall separately to the council’s three-year rotation.

    Te Ao Marama chairwoman Evelyn Cook said all the people chosen for the positions had a wealth of knowledge, skills and passion to bring to the new roles.

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