A formal agreement between the Far North District Council and Te Runanga o Ngati Hine has been described by both organisations as marking a new era of co-operation and understanding between them.

Representatives of the council and the runanga signed a memorandum of understanding at Matawaia Marae earlier this month. The memorandum:

* Outlines the willingness of the council and Ngati Hine to co-operate with each other at a strategic level.

* Commits them to meeting at least four times a year and to developing a work programme that supports shared strategic objectives.


* Makes provision for Ngati Hine to contribute to council policy-making and to advise the council on matters affecting its rohe.

* Requires the council to support Ngati Hine so it can contribute to the decision-making process.

Mayor John Carter said the council was committed to better understanding the concerns of Maori and to building strategic partnerships with iwi and hapu. The council had signed a memorandum of understanding with Te Runanga o Te Rarawa last year, and planned to enter into similar agreements with other willing iwi/hapu in the next three years.

"Ngati Hine told us that there is anger and frustration about the things council does and doesn't do. We acknowledge this, and are addressing Ngati Hine's concerns as part of a wider programme of work aimed at improving the way we engage with communities," Mr Carter said.

The memorandum also provided opportunities for the council and Ngati Hine to address challenges and opportunities together.

"These partnership agreements will allow us to build relationships that are based on understanding and co-operation and result in benefits, not just for the council and Maori, but the wider community," he said.

Te Runanga o Ngati Hine tumuhere (chairman) Waihoroi Shortland said much of what the iwi did lay outside the everyday view of the general populace of the Far North, but much had been done to contribute to the economic, social and cultural landscape that fell within the ambit of the district council.

"This memorandum of understanding will allow us to have high-level conversations with the council aimed at change that is fair, achievable, and in the best interests of both parties. It is a significant means of advancing a Maori voice in local body politics," he said.