First female chair elected for Te Rūnanganui o Te Aupōuri

By Dean Nathan

From the porch of the house of Waimirirangi, Rhonda Kite has been elected as the new chair of Te Rūnanga Nui o Te Aupōuri. 

"I’m absolutely humbled and at the same time I’m very, very excited about the opportunity as an iwi, not only here in this settlement but throughout the motu and internationally.  You know there's a lot of interest in what we’re doing here and I think that under the current circumstances while we’re kind of locked off from the rest of the world, I see opportunity," says Kite.

She is also very lucky to have Peter-Lucas Jones as deputy chair.

He says, "We need to listen to our people, our elders, our leaders, our mothers and our youth to know what they’re passionate about in order to realise the aspirations of the people of Te Aupōuri now and into the future."

A granddaughter of Te Kohe Ngaromutu Heke pictured here in 1935 with other senior elders, Rhonda is the first woman chair of her people and has her focus on their future prosperity.

"I know we’ve got the talent here and I know we’ve got the ambition here to build a solid economic base for the iwi and that's what we’ll be working on, Peter Lucas and I," declares Kite.

While Te Kao is the headquarters of the Te Aupōuri people, Te Rūnanganui o Te Aupōuri are charged with representing the descendants now living in all corners of the world.

"We need to go out we need to learn things we need to experience and get very real on the ground experience and then we can bring that home and pass that on right and develop our businesses and create jobs so that our young people can come back.  They can have their families here they can settle here and build a healthy and wealthy community.  There is nothing stopping us from achieving that at all," says Kite.

"We’re well aware that the whole wide world has changed but despite that we will find options to develop the people of Te Aupōuri and not just Te Aupōuri but all our kin here on the tail of the fish," says Jones.