Ngātiwai leader named on Te Mātāwai

By Tumamao Harawira

Aperahama Edwards has been appointed as Te Taitokerau representative on Te Mātāwai replacing Te Waihoroi Shortland.

"E ngākau iti ana i tēnei hōnore kua uta nei, hāunga anō ki runga i ahau anakē, engari ki runga i te kaupapa nei. Kua roa nei ngā iwi o Te Taitokerau e tohe nei kia puritia tō tātou reo."

Te Mātāwai was established under the Māori Language Act to promote the health and well-being of te reo Māori and absorb the role of Te Pūtahi Pāoho - the electoral college of Māori Television that represents Māori stakeholder interests in the Māori Television Service.

Edwards is considered one of the premier exponents of the Northern dialect of te reo Māori. A facilitator of Te Taumata: He wānanga reo mō Te Tai Tokerau, he is also the chairperson of the Ngātiwai Iwi Trust Board.

He paid tribute to the man he is replacing as Te Taitokerau representative on Te Mātāwai, Te Waihoroi Shortland of Ngāti Hine.

"It's pertinent to acknowledge Te Waihoroi, who held this role for the first round of appointments for Te Mātāwai, and to be able to follow on is a great privilege."

Edwards will also chair Te Pae Motuhake o Te Tai Tokerau, which represents 16 iwi of the Tai Tokerau cluster and oversees $1 million in funding annually for te reo revitalisation.

He says the uniqueness of the Northern dialects is an aspect of his role that he will take a keen interest in, and he is adamant that this distinctive quality must be preserved at all costs, "Me puritia!"

"Being cognisant of the drive in Te Taitokerau to preserve the uniqueness of our reo, and to able to work alongside all the other regions to create an encompassing vision around our reo."

His appointment was announced publicly on Saturday by Te Kahu o Taonui, the taumata for Taitokerau iwi chairs, and commences on 1 Sept 2021.