Local Government Relationship Building with Tangata Whenua in Aotearoa
The demand for the participation of Tangata Whenua in all manner of activities relating to local government continues to impact on the capacity of variously equipped and sized iwi to accommodate the intent of the Local Government Act 2002. A central theme of the relationship processes most currently utilised between local government authorities and iwi continue to be directed by several factors that will be identified as a means of giving context to the discussion.
Relationship building sits at the core of all interaction with iwi/hapu and many local government authorities continue to explore their capability to give effect and sustain those relationships. This paper discusses relationship building and outlines three key factors that must be considered in any relationship building programme including, (1) the facilitation of the terms of engagement that determine the relationship (2) the mutual negotiation of the interpretation of the Act and how this is implemented in collaboration with Tangata whenua; (3) and finally, the capacity of local governments to effectively resource the relationships and the capacity of Tangata whenua to respond to the ongoing development and maintenance of the relationship. The basis of facilitating relationships continues to evolve and at times the ingrained culture and practicalities of traditional society are transcended by the distinct complexity of the diverse populations within local government boundaries and the desire to be mindful of the Eurocentric values of representation, fairness, equality and equity. The story is not new in this instance however the basis on which meaningful engagement is determined must be cognisant of the notions of mutual respect and reciprocity to ensure the relationship remains relevant both in process and application.
Keywords: Tangata Whenua, Local Government Act 2002, iwi, hapu, Relationship Building, Tangata Whenua
Tangata Whenua Relationships Facilitator, Treaty of Waitangi Unit: CEO Advisory Unit, Manukau City Council