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A message from Matt Matamua, Careerforce Kaumatua, reflecting on the meaning of Waitangi Day.


Tēnā  koutou e te Whānau whanui o te Toi Pukenga

I’m sure that you are all looking forward to your Waitangi day holiday on Tuesday.  There are many celebrations around the country and for many it is a chance to connect and relax  with family or friends. However you are spending it, it seems timely  for us to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the Waitangi Day and what Te Tiriti o Waitangi   means to us.

Officially, Waitangi Day is the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and has been celebrated as a public holiday in New Zealand on 6 February since 1960.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi  is our nation’s Turangawaewae. Literally tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), it is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home. A key intent of the Treaty of Waitangi was to uphold relationships of mutual benefit between the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa (tangata whenua) and all those who had come, and were to come, to settle here (tangata tiriti).

Waitangi day is a time to reflect, learn and prepare, as well as celebrate the unique contributions of both tangata whenua (literally “the people of the land”) and tangata tiriti ( literally, “the people of the Treaty’) to our national identity.  It provides an opportunity to consider greater awareness of bicultural issues, encourage ourselves and others to become informed about New Zealand’s past and instil a sense of pride & belonging to this country that we share with a diverse range of people.

For Careerforce our vision  of “Improving the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders”  clearly sits well with spirit of the Treaty.   Likewise,  our values also guide  Careerforce towards our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Kaitiakitanga (upholding responsibilities) helps us  to remain committed to benefitting the communities we serve and protecting the wellbeing of future generations. Kotahitanga (connecting people) supports our unity for our common vision and how everything we do is focused towards this goal. Manaakitanga (honouring others and ourselves) is the idea of caring about others, uplifting and supporting them.  Our commitment to the treaty means that we want  to respond appropriately to the needs of our Māori providers and trainees and the communities and clients that are supported by us,  enhance the effectiveness of our work, grounding our work firmly in Aotearoa.

However, we should also remember that the Treaty is about relationships where power is shared. Talking about relationships makes talking about equity more possible but embracing relational change asks that we be open to the unknown.   In order for us to play our part in restoring  wellbeing equity for Māori  we need to support each other into the unknown.

As you go about your Waitangi Day or perhaps when you come back to work, I encourage you to reflect for a moment  about your role in our Careerforce whanau and how our values can guide you towards your part in out Treaty journey. I am always here to  help  and kōrero  if you need it.

Mā te whakapono, te tumanako me te aroha, ka taea

Ngā mihi nui