Presbyterian Support National Council hui at Hoani Waititi Marae

At its hui last week held at Hoani Waititi Marae in Tāmaki Makaurau, Presbyterian Support’s National Council of regional Chairs ratified a new Constitution, amended to ensure PSNZ’s governance structure gives effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

In response to changing legislation for Charities and Incorporated Societies, Presbyterian Support’s Federation recently reviewed its Rules and Trust Deed but went further to seek advice on how these documents could better reflect the Federation’s alliance to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Legal advice back to the National Council said amendments should be made to our governance structure, with a set of options given, weighted from most recommended to least.

“When these options were discussed by National Council with its Māori Advisory Group and National Executives, the option of allowing each regional board to be represented by both a Māori and Tauiwi representative was considered to be the sensible option,” said Andrew Johnston, PSNZ Chair and Tumaki Tauiwi Co-Chair of Presbyterian Support Upper South Island. “We saw the need to know and make welcome a Māori viewpoint from every region around our National Council table.”

Johnston noted that while Te Tiriti o Waitangi established a set of rights and obligations and a relationship between the Crown and Rangatira, Presbyterian Support was neither Crown nor Tangata Whenua, but held longstanding relationships with both. He believed the governance framework for the nation (Kāwanatanga) set out in Te Tiriti, its affirmation of the existing rights of Tangata Whenua (Rangatiratanga) and guarantee of shared citizenship and equal rights for all (Rite Tahi) provide guidelines for any organisation in Aotearoa to tautoko.

“Presbyterian Support’s whole purpose is to ensure we take the best possible care of each other, just as Bishop Manuhuia wrote in his Te Raroa Report to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1992,” said Johnston. “Te Tiriti holds that ‘promise of two peoples’ to do just that, together on this land.”

National Council members were immersed in Tikanga Māori during their stay on Hoani Waititi Marae. Te Kahui Rangatira, PSNZ’s Māori Advisory Group led the 2-day visit’s programme development which included pōwhiri, mihi whakatau and korero with Mana Whenua o Hoani Waititi, Auckland’s Urban Marae. Novi Marikena spent an hour with the National Council for example, presenting on the difference between Māori and Pakeha styles of governance.

In reference to what he called a significant move towards modelling a living model of co-governance Marikena commented “I am reminded of the words that our Tīpuna Tā Apirana Ngata penned in his whakatauākii ‘E tipu, e rea’ and how these words have transcended the boundaries of time to be as poignant today as the day that they were written,

E tipu e rea mō ngā rā o tō Ao

Ko tō ringa ki te rākau o te Pākehā hei ara mō tō tinana

Ko tō ngākau ki ngā taonga a ō tātou Tīpuna Matua hei tikitiki mō tō māhunga

Ko tō wairua ki te Atua, nāna nei ngā mea katoa.

Grow and prosper within your time & generation

Grasp the knowledge of the World as a vehicle of physical achievement

Retain the ancestral teachings and display them as a source of pride & cultural identity

Join in spirituality to the Creator as s/he is the origin of all things spiritual & physical.”

Te Kahui Rangatira of PSNZ is made up of the seven Pou Tohutohu Ahurea Māori of each Presbyterian Support region. As well as develop the programme for this event the Roopū also presented their 3-year Workplan to the National Council, set for the national cultural development work ahead.

“There is no reason to be afraid of working together with our Treaty partners. It is about equal numbers working together. This is an opportunity for Māori to have their say, and to make meaningful and significant decisions about the work of PSNZ across the country,” said Jim Berry, Te Manukura o Te Kahui Rangatira and Pou Tohutohu Ahurea Māori for Presbyterian Support Central.

“The change in the Constitution is about a Treaty relationship that’s built on trust and confidence to work cohesively and collectively, to improve PSNZ services for overall improvement of the health and wellbeing of those we serve.”

Presbyterian Support New Zealand’s vision is for empowered and connected whānau and communities. The mission is to foster wellbeing through advocacy and support. In the regions the commitment is to achieve positive outcomes for all whānau. This vision, mission and commitment steers the organisation closely already to the principles of partnership, participation, and protection.

“As the national organisation for Presbyterian Support, our Constitutional documents and the Workplan of Te Kahui Rangatira will refresh our purpose to move toward Te Tiriti o Waitangi’s principles, through meaningful whānaungatanga with local mana whenua and intentional engagement with Te Ao Māori” said Dr Prudence Stone, National Executive Officer for PSNZ.

“Greater diversity, an inclusive culture and a Māori viewpoint at governance level will enhance understanding, decision making and performance, while at the same time the changes are designed to support member regions to progress at their own pace.”

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