Māori leader welcomed to Whangārei District Council

By Raniera Harrison

Aperahama Edwards (Ngāti Wai) has been formally welcomed as the new Māori Relationships Manager at the Whangārei District Council. 

Ngāti Wai were well represented at the official welcoming ceremony for the new Māori Relationships Manager today.

"The suitable candidate needs to be steadfast in this position because of its difficulties," says  Edwards.

The role is aimed at bringing better understanding between Māori and the council.  The Mayor of Whangārei, Sheryl Mai has already expressed her wishes for the coming months.

"What we as an organisation are looking to do is to improve that understanding of what we do and why- but also improve the knowledge that we're working from" says Mai.

Edwards will bring traditional tribal knowledge to the council in a city of 57,000 residents. 

"Sometimes there is discourse," says Edwards, "The main objective of this position is to act as an intermediary to bridge both sides of a conversation."

Mai says that the council still has more to do with regards to the promotion of Māori concepts. 

"Culturally, I think we are growing as well," says Mai, "We need to be ensuring that our reo is getting better and better and more and more people are learning.  We need to brush up on our waiata."

The council says that an integral part of the role is to engage with the Māori community and to build positive relationships between Council, iwi and hapū. 

"There have been some notable figures in the community who have held this position in previous years. This role holds authority because of their efforts" says Edwards.