Tena tatou katoa.

It seems like a long time since my last column, so much has happened in and around Rotorua in the last wee while.

Te Haaro o Te Kaahu - Nga Kapa Haka Tuarua o Aotearoa 2016

I must begin by congratulating all the high schools and their students who participated in the Secondary Schools National Kapa Haka competition held in Hastings recently. Rotorua was well represented at the competition by Te Roopuu Manaaki, Iti Rearea, Nga Kura o Te Puku o Te Ika and Raukura who, as we know, took out the finals. There is nothing better than watching our rangatahi take the stage, standing with pride representing their whanau, hapu, iwi, and of course their kura and telling our history through waiata and haka.

Months of dedication to your respective kura and tutors was certainly worth it after seeing the performances. Raukura delivered a stunning and emotional performance in the finals and were so deserving of taking the top honours.

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I must admit that I did tell anyone down there who would listen that Te Arawa had come to take the trophies home! To all involved, ka nui aku mihi ki a koutou, ka wani ke koutou katoa.

Local body elections

Local body elections are coming up and that's evident with things heating up locally. There have been some disappointing tactics from a few candidates who are running for various positions.

The usual divisive commentary about Te Ao Maori has begun with some candidates seemingly oblivious to the Local Government Act.

This states that authorities must establish and maintain processes to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority and consider ways in which it may foster the development of Maori capacity to contribute to those processes.

These few individuals are using their campaign platform to criticise the Rotorua Lakes Council Te Arawa Partnership model. This is a model which recently took out a national award, which our council is rightly proud of, and which should be a template for other local authorities to follow.

There have also been some pretty low tactics on social media where council staff have been targeted. This kind of campaigning is not on. Employees and public servants have a job to do, and should be able to do so without having their mana and integrity questioned by those seeking positions in public office.

I encourage you all to check and make sure you are enrolled to vote, and check that your whanau, your rangatahi, kuia and koroua are as well.

Hinemoa and Tutanekai

In closing today, I must say that I am pleased with the decision made by Auckland brewers Birkenhead Brewery, and Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar in Rotorua, who both made the decision to remove the images and names of Hinemoa and Tutanekai from their alcohol after the hapu who are kaitiaki of these tupuna expressed concern.

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Using tupuna to sell products like kai, and particularly alcohol and cigarettes, is never a good idea. Why? You are directly mixing tupuna names (and/or images) which are tapu with items that are noa i.e. food and beverages.

The arguments for and against were passionate, however the whole fiasco could probably have been avoided had consultation occurred with the right people in the first instance. Maori culture is a huge selling point for Aotearoa, so we must do all we can to protect our tupuna and ensure they are only promoted in a way that is respectful, and keeps their mana intact. I am sure that putting their names or images on alcohol, simply does not do that.

- I welcome your feedback. Email mpwaiariki@parliament.govt.nz Phone 0508 924 274.