To my fellow countrymen, welcome here to Te Arawa as we look forward to hosting you for this great occasion - Te Matatini.
Te Matatini celebrates 40 years of existence, 21 festivals since it first started and many thousands of performers that have graced its stage over the years - singing, enacting the haka, and presenting the poi. We welcome you all to this special event
For us of Te Arawa, the time has finally arrived when we take responsibility for this event and on its completion pass the honours on to the next hosts, Te Waipounamu. I am sure we will do so with dignity and humility.
The wonderful stage created by Te Puia is in place now at Te Kaitao o Rangipare and it is a breathtaking sight that the country will soon behold.
One would need a few months of solid learning to come to grips with the depth of knowledge encapsulated in the works that we all will be able to admire.
I acknowledge the learned carvers and their students for their work which they should all be extremely proud of.
Now just in case someone might suggest that there is only one thing on the mind at present, let me consider if there is something else.
Aha - there is nothing.
Te Arawa will come together as one to welcome the country and it is likely to be an awesome occasion.
There will be no moaning and groaning and there will be a single focus - which will be to welcome our visitors.
Nau mai haere mai.
I understand that just recently we have engaged people from outside of Te Arawa to adjudicate over some of our Te Arawa issues.
No doubt there will be times when this is necessary simply because we have come to an impasse amongst ourselves, but here I am wondering what is wrong with open discussion - face to face, where tribes and hapu can engage as equals.
What is wrong with going into our ancestral houses, closing the door and staying put until an amicable solution is reached? Our ancestors did it regularly.
Sometimes we put our issues with lawyers to sort out the kinks of Maoridom.
I think that there is something not quite right with that - we continually quote our whakapapa but when it comes to the crunch, genealogical ties and traditions are moved to the side.
Anyway, I leave that as something to consider.
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