Long-time Māori education and Māori rights advocate Hilda Halkyard-Harawira has thrown her hat in the ring to contest the newly established Māori wards on the Far North District Council.
She made the decision to run following a push by locals to find suitable candidates to stand, and she will be running on issues that she has spent more than 40 years advocating for.
Halkyard-Harawira is a former waka ama world champion, co-founder of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangiāniwaniwa in Kaitāia, Māori rights campaigner, and a great-grandmother.
She is one of 18 candidates running for four Māori wards. Originally brought up in South Auckland, she returned to the north over 30 years ago. With her experience, she says she is ideally placed to deliver change for Māori.
"There are numerous laws that denigrate Māori, so, if the four of us are sitting at the council table, we might be able to effect change."
Delivering change for Māori in the north.
Homes for whānau
Whānau returning home to settle down has caused issues such as where to house them. The Far North has a committed community that believes in the right for Māori to self-determine for themselves but she says Māori are, at times, last on the to-do list for the council.
"Māori represent a significant share of the population but those on council seem to not like Māori. There are many moving home, who have no home."
Halkyard-Harawira has, for many years, been a staunch advocate for mana Māori. She has been involved in many protest activities including the foreshore and seabed hikoi, as well as being heavily involved in protest action in Waitangi. She would like to see Māori having a greater say in local councils.
"There is a confidence that we may be able to gain some equity, Māori having a say in all aspects of the council."