One of New Zealand's most influential Māori women spent a busy two days getting to know more about Northland issues.

Visiting Te Taitokerau is always like coming home for Nanaia Mahuta, MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Minister for Māori Development and Local Government, Associate Minister for the Environment, Housing (Māori) and Trade and Export Growth.

Mahuta's whakapapa are Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Manu - the latter the Ngāpuhi-affiliated hapu of her late grandmother who lived and is now buried at Te Tii in Waitangi.

Mahuta told the Advocate she has many memories of school holidays and other whanau visits to Waitangi.

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''I have the most wonderful memories of staying with my grandmother, running around here as a kid, playing in the estuary and at the beach, the kaimoana. It's always a pleasure and privilege to come back,'' she said.

She was speaking at Waitangi Treaty Grounds on Thursday during two full days of engagements in Waitangi and Whangārei. They included sharing with her colleague Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the announcement of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds' elevated status as New Zealand's first National Historic Landmark.

Mahuta said it was of great importance that New Zealand safeguarded its most significant historic sites.

Heritage NZ Maori Council chairman Sir John Clarke with a waka huia holding the Landmark document, watched by Waitangi cultural manager Mori Rapana, left, and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Grant Robertson. Photo / Lindy Laird
Heritage NZ Maori Council chairman Sir John Clarke with a waka huia holding the Landmark document, watched by Waitangi cultural manager Mori Rapana, left, and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Grant Robertson. Photo / Lindy Laird

Earlier in the day she spoke at the Local Government Symposium at the Copthorne Hotel Waitangi and met with representatives of Māori development programmes. After the Waitangi Treaty Grounds event, she met with Te Runanga ō Ngāpuhi and then Te Hau Ora ō Ngāpuhi to discuss housing.

Housing and welfare policies were again on her programme on Friday when she visited the Open Arms Day Shelter for homeless people in Whangārei.

That was followed with a meeting at Te Puni Kokiri Whangārei about the Housing First initiative, which aims to get homeless people with issues such as mental health into housing and follow up with appropriate care.