Foxton will host Dames, Knights, judges and professors this week as key Māori speakers and leaders attend the Puanga-Matariki Symposium at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.

The symposium is hosted by Te Pā Harakeke o Te Awahou, Foxton's Māori language immersion educational setting, and the wider Māori community of Foxton.

Symposium patrons Dame Tariana Turia and Professor Sir Mason Durie are attending, along with Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta, John Tamihere and Sir Wira Gardiner.

Professor Sir Mason Durie.
Professor Sir Mason Durie.

The theme for the symposium this year is Kaitiakitanga i te Ao Hurihuri which focuses on four main areas - Culture, Whānau, Environment and Future - and how those areas aligned with global indigenous aspirations for sustainability.

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On a local level the symposium will be an opportunity to share the work and aspirations for restoration of the Manawatū River.

Chairperson of Save Our River Trust (SORT) Robin Hapi said the restoration and the work being done to achieve their goal was consistent with the kaupapa of Culture, Whanau, Environment and Future.

Dame Tariana Turia
Dame Tariana Turia

"The theme is consistent with community efforts over decades in Foxton to bring attention to the dire need for the restoration of the river," he said.

Organiser Ehita Putaka said it was the first time the symposium has been held in Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom and it was an opportunity to showcase the venue.

"The symposium provides an opportunity for those attending to see Foxton's great new community facility Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, which is a multimillion dollar construction that houses a Māori arts centre, the National Dutch Museum, a library and the local Information Centre," she said.

Other speakers include Debbie Packer from Taranaki, while iwi development advocate and adviser Sharlene Maoate-Davis will speak on environmental issues.

Sir Wira Gardiner is expected to speak in depth about his recently released book, Ake Ake Kia Kaha E! Forever Brave, the Māori Battalion B Company story.

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom building in Foxton.
Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom building in Foxton.

Hikurangi Cannabis Company managing director Panapa Ehau will also give a talk on the environment, as head of a leading medicinal cannabis research and development enterprise.

Other speakers included three-time World Cup winning rugby player Dr Farah Palmer, and the first Supreme Court Judge, Justice Joe Williams.

Te Aānanga o Raukawa Academic Leader Dr Hohaia Collier, would also provide a keynote summary.

Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta and Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere will speak about whānau and the context of Kaitiakitanga.

Putaka said the symposium had attracted several key sponsors, including Te Wānaga o Raukawa, Te Tihi o Ruahine and Te Puni Kōkiri.

"We need sponsorship to ensure a high-quality symposium that brings outstanding presenters to Foxton so we are delighted to receive support from these organisations," she said.

The symposium will be held on Friday. Tickets are still available at $375.