Ngāti Uenukukōpako and Rotorua Airport reach significant agreement

By James Perry

Paraone Pirika (Ngāti Uenukukōpako) and Rotorua Airport chair Peter Stubbs acknowledge the signing of a memorandum of understanding

Ngāti Uenukukōpako Iwi Trust and Rotorua Regional Airport are working together to create a better future for both parties.

The two parties formalised their relationship with the official signing of a memorandum of understanding on Monday that will see them work closely together to recognise the past, while building a strong future that "provides positive outcomes for everyone involved, including the immediate surrounding community".

The agreement was signed by Paraone Pirika and Wharangi Cookson on behalf of the koeke (elders) of Ngāti Uenukukōpako, RRA chairman Peter Stubbs and chief executive Nicole Brewer at a ceremony following the airport company’s AGM.

Over the past four years, both parties have focused on ensuring better ways of working together, including regular hui to provide updates on developments and a platform for further discussion. This work has culminated in the MOU.

Ngāti Uenukukōpako Iwi Trust chairman Nireaha Pirika says the agreement is an important acknowledgement for the iwi and will help to open doors for Ngāti Uenukukōpako whānau.

“It offers us many opportunities to work together. Most importantly, it ensures an open and ongoing dialogue between Ngāti Uenukukōpako and the airport that will ultimately result in greater engagement and knowledge sharing, which will benefit the wider Rotokawa community.“

Deep ancestral connection

Brewer says the MOU is the next step in recognising the significance of Ngāti Uenukukōpako and its relationship to the airport.

“Ngāti Uenukukōpako has deep ancestral connections to Rotokawa and the land underlying Rotorua Airport,” she says.

“We are looking forward to working more closely with iwi representatives on development opportunities at the airport that create a thriving community, mutual economic benefits and a sustainable environment.”

Stubbs, says the MOU forms the basis of a solid future for the airport.

“The only way for us to achieve our vision of being a uniquely Rotorua hub that our community can be proud of is through genuine collaboration with our partners. The MOU will greatly contribute to ensuring better outcomes for everyone.”

Underpinning the agreement

Four key values underpin the agreement that both parties expect will create a "high trust relationship": 

Whakapapa - To grow the understanding of mana whenua and set up processes that respect this today and into the future

Whanaungatanga - The airport will make Ngāti Uenukukōpako aware of internships, work experience and employment opportunities, so Uenukukōpako rangatahi can gain skills that lead to employment and business opportunities

Wairuatanga - Ngāti Uenukukōpako will provide cultural advice on matters that affect the airport

Manaakitanga – Ngāti Uenukukōpako and RRA undertake to ensure that all communications between the parties are honest, respectful, and guided by kindness.