"He pukepuke moana, e ekengia e te waka" - A choppy sea can be navigated
Through the challenges of the past 24 months, the communities of Te Tai Tokerau have stood strong and navigated the storms which have threatened to blow us off course.
As we emerge from this period of uncertainty, we must return focus to the underlying issues our region faces, which have been magnified by the border restrictions which saw Tai Tokerau Northland regionally isolated in late 2021.
While we are aware of the challenges our region faces, equally there exists a great opportunity to create a thriving and prosperous Tai Tokerau Northland.
Value-added opportunities for the primary sector and initiatives to boost productivity, address energy poverty and the digital divide, navigating sustainability and climate change while generating better economic outcomes for whānau in our region remain hot topics.
The challenges and opportunities presented to our region are best understood by those who have an intimate understanding of the strands which weave our region's communities together.
It is with this understanding that alongside our partners, Northland Inc has recently started developing Te Ōhanga Rautaki Whānui o Te Tai Tokerau, the Northland Regional Economic Development Strategy.
The strategy, like the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan and other initiatives before it, aims to capitalise on such opportunities within our region.
It is with lessons taken from our experience on projects such as the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan and Te Kahu of Taonui's He Tangata, He Whenua, He Oranga, that we understand the importance of implementing a region-specific economic development framework to ensure tangible changes are created.
It is our vision that Te Ōhanga Rautaki Whānui o Te Tai Tokerau will be built on the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, embedding the aspirations of our tupuna into the fabric of the strategy framework.
The weight of this obligation is especially important as we create a strategy for the benefit of Tai Tokerau Northland, understanding the significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to our region.
It is through this action that we acknowledge where we have come from and the lessons we have developed along the way, in order to set us up for success in the future.
A successful strategy must not only incorporate positive benefits for today's communities, what we must develop is a platform that is forward-thinking and intergenerational, setting Tai Tokerau Northland up for success today and into the future.
With this in mind, sustainability will be a key consideration in the Strategy development, ensuring that the actions we plan for today set up a plentiful and thriving Tai Tokerau Northland for the generations to come.
As our tūpuna reminds us, we are merely temporary custodians of these lands, "Toitū te whenua Whatungarongaro te tangata".
Our success will be measured on the sustainable foundations that are created in our region for the Tai Tokerau communities of the future.
Addressing issues of equity of opportunity and wealth are also key priorities for the strategy.
Covid-19 has heightened the need to address the impacts of these issues as the economic impact has been felt by our whānau and communities across the region.
The importance of shared prosperity is one which we envisage the strategy championing, working to create connections and opportunities for our most vulnerable communities, while generating positive societal and economic benefits across Tai Tokerau Northland.
In order to achieve the best possible outcomes and generate tangible change off the back of this project, there is one key ingredient that we recognise in our recipe for success.
Te Ōhanga Rautaki Whānui o Te Tai Tokerau will be developed in partnership with iwi and hāpu, communities and industry sectors alongside the local and central government.
This cross-agency collaboration will allow us to ideate and execute initiatives to tackle our region's big issues, with the resources and network to create tangible change across Tai Tokerau Northland.
It's on this point that we extend an invitation to join us on this journey, as we seek expressions of interest to form the Te Ōhanga Rautaki Whānui o Te Tai Tokerau Steering Group.
We're looking for a wide range of representatives for our region, who have the mana, experience, and influence to generate positive changes and investments for Tai Tokerau.
It's our vision that the steering group will bring their passion, their skills and their lived experiences collaborating to reflect the aspirations of our region, and those of our tupuna in He Whakaputanga me Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Visit the Northland Inc website to find out more about how you can be involved.