First mana whenua representatives to be welcomed to ICC committee

Evelyn Cook (left), of Waihopai Runaka, and Pania Coote, of Te Runanga o Awarua, will be appointed members of the Performance, Policy and Partnerships and Infrastructural Services committees next week. Photo: Supplied

INVERCARGILL City Council’s (ICC) first mana whenua-appointed roles have been filled, with nominees to take part in an historic first committee meeting of the Infrastructural Committee next month.

Pania Coote, of Te Runanga o Awarua, and Evelyn Cook, of Waihopai Runaka, will be appointed members of the Performance, Policy and Partnerships and Infrastructural Services committees following ICC’s resolution to establish two seats on its committees, one each for Te Runanga o Awarua and Waihopai Runaka, in July.

Runaka were invited to name their representatives, who would have full voting and speaking rights at the committee meetings and who would also be able to attend and speak at all ICC meetings, but without voting rights.

Ms Coote is a Justice of the Peace and holds a Masters in Social Work and Community Development from the University of Otago.

“This is a great honour to represent mana whenua at the council table, working together with Maori to build stronger communities and to achieve better outcomes for all,” she said.

Ms Coote had held several national governance roles including chair of the National Screening Advisory Committee for the Ministry of Health, Hei Ahuru Mowai (National Maori Cancer Leadership Group) and Hui E! Community Aotearoa.

She was also a member of the Bluff Community Board from 2007-2013.

Waihopai Runaka nominated Evelyn Cook as its representative.

“I feel honoured to represent my whanau, and runaka in this way, something my grandfather would never have envisaged for any of his mokopuna,” Ms Cook said.

Ms Cook is the Waihopai Runaka alternate representative to Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, a member of the Waihopai Runaka executive, and ka Runaka representative at Emergency Management Southland and Southland Museum & Art Gallery Trust, SMAG representative on Te Awhi Rito and a member of the museum governance group.

ICC chief executive Clare Hadley said it was a significant moment.

“Not only are we adding to our store of knowledge and perspective, we are aligning with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) and our own long-term plan.”

There would be a formal welcome to the ICC Building and Chamber for the two mana whenua representatives before the committee meeting on October 5 at 3pm.