Following the decision of Ruapehu District councillor Adie Doyle to walk out of a meeting during an opening karakia, Laurel Stowell asks local representatives about the place of prayer and karakia in politics.
Adie Doyle's fellow Ruapehu councillor Elijah Pue has been saying karakia to start meetings for four or five months.
He said that was at the request of mayor Don Cameron.
"It's a protective enchantment, I suppose, if you could call it that, asks the mountain, Ruapehu, to give us guidance and strength to allow us to get on with the mahi that we have in front of us, for the betterment of our community."
The karakia was not on the agenda and not reflective of any religion and Pue believed Doyle wanted the karakia discussed and agreed to by the council, and also its content revised - and Pue himself wanted a solution to suit everyone.
"I'm not interested in compromise," he said. "What I'm interested in is kotahitanga (unity). I'm interested in us being on the same page."
Having the karakia spoke to the Treaty of Waitangi partnership in this country, and also showed leadership in the community," he said.
"It's about pausing to reflect and preparing us mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually for what's ahead.
"We make some huge decisions, so we should be taking time to stop and reflect on the journey that we are on. I think having a karakia allows us to do that."
Whanganui District Council meetings begin with a Christian prayer crafted by former councillor Allan Anderson and his wife Rosemary.
She chairs Whanganui's strategy and finance committee, and each of her meetings begins and ends with a karakia, followed by a waiata. She wanted councillors to learn at least one waiata.
Councillors have been receptive to this, which she said was a testament to their goodwill.
Having a karakia reflected traditional Māori tikanga, which she hoped was being a good Treaty of Waitangi partner.
"We are a South Pacific nation. It makes good sense to reflect our indigenous people."
South Taranaki District Council sometimes has karakia, and is working toward having one before every meeting, mayor Phil Nixon said. Councillors have had no problem with it.
"We just seem to be a council that works with various people and do what we do and get on with it, rather than fighting against some of these things, which is not constructive."
It's all part of being a good Treaty partner, he said, and people have different views about how far to take that.
"The Māori community respect these sorts of things, and we just need to work with them."
Having a karakia is both a formality and an opportunity to slow down for a moment before jumping into the next piece of business, he said.
When Tracey Hiroa and Waru Panapa were sworn in as Rangitīkei councillors in 2019, they made their oaths in Te reo Māori, Hiroa said.
That council begins the first meeting of the day with the same prayer, in either English or Māori. There has never been an issue with that.
Te reo Māori is part of everything the council does, with words like mahi (work) and tautoko (support) used by everyone. Councillors are also brushing up on their pronunciation, of words like Tutaenui, the name of the stream that flows through Marton.
It's not so much about being a good Treaty partner, Hiroa said, and more about being a person who lives here.
For her, a karakia before a meeting, before starting work or before eating, is just second nature.
"It's just a normal thing that we would do every day."