Iwi leaders from all over Aotearoa were welcomed to Rotorua yesterday for day one of a two-day forum.
The iwi leaders were welcomed to Rotorua by mayor Steve Chadwick and Te Tatau o Te Arawa Board chairman Te Taru White at a pohiri at Te Papaiouru Marae in Ohinemutu.
Meetings for the Iwi Leaders' Forum were held at Te Puia with issues being discussed over the two days including freshwater, conservation, climate change, oil, gas and mineral extraction, housing, young people, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, social services and sustainable seas.
Rotorua forum chairman and Te Arawa kaumatua Sir Toby Curtis said the forum attracted the leaders from all iwi in the country plus their support teams with about 200 people attending.
He said the forum gave confidence to Maori that they can have a say in the overall running and development of the nation.
"We believe we have a particular contribution we can make in terms of being tangata whenua ... and how our lives are guided and directed no matter which government is in power. The main issues are to ensure Maori play a reasonable role in the running of our country through local government, through government departments ... and a Maori view that captures the cultural significance in terms of what is best for our future direction."
Also attending the forum were Maori Party co-leader and Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell, Rotorua MP and Trade Minister Todd McClay, Treaty Settlements Minister Chris Finlayson, Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Professor Margaret Mutu, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu, Sir Mark Solomon and Judge Carolyn Henwood.