I am very proud to say this community is not afraid of looking at the hard questions and having difficult conversations.

Establishing a more enduring, sustainable and meaningful relationship model with Te Arawa has been one of those tough discussions.

It was something I became aware of during the 2013 election campaign, and was further highlighted shortly after I took office that year with the then Te Arawa Standing Committee under review.

This topic has challenged and been uncomfortable for many but it was a conversation and debate that this community needed to have.


It has become clear having iwi involved in the decision-making future of our city is a must for progress as well as a requirement of legislation.

I have been told the Te Arawa Partnership Model proposal has divided the community along racial lines but I simply can't believe this to be true. Any prejudices only belong with the underbelly which has attacked and scaremongered on those deep-seated antagonistic grounds.

As elected officials, staff and a district, we have endured some nasty behaviour from orchestrated campaigns against this process.

We have been personally abused, threatened and publicly accused of tyranny, bias and corruption.

Te Arawa has been accused of a backdoor power grab by a "new elite".

I remain confident that all council officers have acted in the best interests of the organisation and our community, despite the accusations and deliberate misinformation.

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Elected officials can assess the appropriateness of their own contribution to this debate and, over time, we will be judged by the community.

Te Arawa has remained dignified and steadfast through this all. They have always stated they wanted to be involved in our district's future. During this process, it has become so evident that Te Arawa were owed, and needed to be provided, the opportunity to better contribute.

The hearings reinforced the contribution by Te Arawa to the establishment and shaping of Rotorua. So much has been given for us all to prosper and enjoy. For 25 generations, Te Arawa have shared their life force with the community and this will continue for our futures and those to come.

I was overawed by the young submitters - the new thinkers, shapers and movers who made submissions.

Verbal submitters were brutal in their honesty and reflections of what they felt had gone wrong with the past relationship with iwi, and as a council we have listened to that.

We now have a democratic decision, voted eight to five that allows us to think about and plan for the future.

This partnership allows Te Arawa to be at the table; two representatives on council committees who can contribute to the direction of our district.

There is nothing to be scared of. Models like this work effectively in other parts of the country and it will do the same here.

There is still much work needed to enable the final operational model and council will work with Te Arawa to ensure this is completed.

The great thing is that this process has shown us that, despite the past, we can still work together.

I understand there will be some people who believe the world as they know it has ended but I say it is a new beginning and let's continue to work together for the better future we all want for Rotorua.

Our community has come of age.

Tatau tatau - we together.