Hapū rangatiratanga at the core of Ngāpuhi

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

A year of ups, downs, and Covid hasn’t stopped Ngāpuhi from delivering for its people. Leaders within the iwi says that's because hapū rangatiranga is at now at the core of what the Rūnanga does. 

The iwi's hauora service provider, Te Hauora o Ngāpuhi has been a hub of support for iwi members in a year plagued with Covid. CEO, Te Ropu Poa says ensuring hapū have the resources to do what they need to has been at the center of the covid response, "working closely with marae and hapū has been the highlight of the year." 

"being heard is a challenge"

But it hasn't been without its challenges, Poa said that there has been an "information overload" in Te Tai Tokerau and misinformation has set in. She also says that people are forgetting the "normal hauora conditions that haven't been addressed" and that health literacy is an issue for the area. She says that the hauora has made recommendations to the government but they've been ignored. While the government has provided the Māori Communities COVID-19 Fund of $120 million, Poa says the health inequities in Te Tai Tokerau go further than Covid. 

She says "being heard is a challenge"

Te Ropu Poa

Above: Te Ropu Poa, CEO, Te Hauora o Ngāpuhi / Supplied

Building Capacity 

Poa says, earning the trust of the hapū has been a rewarding challenge. The Hauora is working on hapū ora models to work with whānau to develop and be self-sustainable. 

A young group from Ngāti Tautahi she describes as "exciting and trustworthy" is taking opportunities to help whānau while building knowledge to grow capacity within their hapū "hangi one day, catering the next and fencing on the other side". 

The group's next task is to learn the ins and outs of self-isolation with the Hauora devolving the system and training marae and hapū to run quarantine for whānau who may struggle to isolate should they come into contact with the virus. 

"Growing talent in Ngāpuhi to build capacity so old ducks like me can move over," says Poa 

And Sam Napia, CEO of Te Rūnanga o Ngāpuhi agrees, he says the role of the rūnanga is to support the hapū and to make resources available for hapū, 'it is not and will not be the case that the rūnanga will lead the hapū, the rūnanga will support the hapū.'

Napia, has been in the role for just over a year and says the focus of the rūnanga is on hapū rangatiratanga. 


Napia says there was a turning point when the board of trustees moved to put the hapū at the core of decisions and use the resources in the rūnanga to support the work being done by hapū. In an address to the iwi Napia said, "Under the guidance of Trustees, operations staff are working to reframe valued strategic relationships with central and local government agencies, along with non-governmental and community organisations. Most importantly, the Trustees have directed that we uphold the tikanga of He Wakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tīreni and Te Tiriti o Waitangi and, in so doing, assert our commitment to the rangatiratanga of Ngāpuhi hapū."

Napia told Te Ao Mārama, that with the decision means the staff can plan and work to always "uphold hapū rangatiratanga."

This decision came after findings from a review into the arrangements of the governance of the rūnanga was highly critical of existing governance. It also found that the rūnanga was not fit for purpose. 

Ngāpuhi will tautoko Ngāpuhi

$96,500 in 80 education Scholarships were awarded to Ngāpuhi descendants in the last year, 11 sports sponsorships were granted to help run events across the region, 8 cultural sponsorships, 1 for a Youth-focused weekend wānaga for rangatahi in Kaikohe, and 6 community event sponsorships to help with things from lighting the Kaikohe rugby field on training nights to helping with fundraising for a new playground. 

Sam Napia Ngāpuhi

Above: Sam Napia, CEO of Te Rūnanga o Ngāpuhi

Great staff 

Napia says it's a "blessing and a privilege" to work alongside the kaimahi to deliver for the people of Ngāpuhi and says that 2022 will be exciting for the hapū as the iwi continues to rally around its core values. 

Napia says there are two things that every Ngāpuhi believes in and that is 1. He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti and 2. Hapū Rangatiratanga. Napia believes that the path of hapū rangatiratanga will bring the iwi a step closer to settlement. 

Hapū training in SIQ will begin next week.