Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has appointed its first two councillors to Te Kaunihera Taiao ki Waitaha / Environment Canterbury following the passing of the Ngāi Tahu Representation Act in Parliament in August.
The act was intended to ensure future decision-making around te ao tūroa would include the voices and votes of mana whenua.
Ngāi Tahu appointed Iaean Cranwell (Ngāti Irakehu, Ngāti Kurī, Ngāti Makō), a former Environment Canterbury councillor and tumu taiao mana whenua expert and former National MP Tutehounuku (Nuk) Korako.
Cranwell was one of two tumu taiao mana whenua experts on the council during the previous term and also served as a councillor for Ngāi Tahu on Environment Canterbury from 2016 to 2019. He says that throughout his career, he has collaborated with hapū, papatipu rūnanga, communities and environmental organisations.
Cranwell becomes one bridge between Ngāi Tahu & Environment Canterbury.
The process, he says, was rigorous, with 13 people having applied to take the councillor positions.
Cranwell says the rūnanga and council have gone from the relationship phase to being Treaty partners over the years. The act ensures Article II issues of the Treaty of Waitangi are taken care of.
“What the councillors decided was what is good for mana whenua is good for Waitaha [Canterbury], and everyone was in agreeance with that.”
Cranwell says, for the iwi, that mahinga kai, climate change and access to the natural world are some of the main responsibilities that he will oversee, such as looking after the rivers for the people and then for business.