Te Arawa has hopes of becoming the major employer of iwi descendants within the next 30 years.
The iwi wants to see more Te Arawa-run businesses providing employment for its people locally, while also highlighting a Te Arawa parliament and bank, its own Silicon Valley, and restored wai and whenua as future possibilities for descendants by 2050.
These goals will be achieved by connecting the whole iwi and the way forward will be up to the young people of today and future generations.
The ideas are embedded in the new long-term strategy developed by the iwi, for the iwi, hapū and whānau in the Te Arawa region and titled Te Arawa 2050 Vision. The document, which has been one and a half years in the making, was formally presented at a launch at Te Puia on Sunday.
The document sets out goals the iwi aims to achieve by 2050, including restored wai and whenua to sustain food and resource demands and the establishment of Te Arawa businesses to become the major employer of iwi descendants.
Rōpū Whakahaere member and Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman, Te Taru White told the Rotorua Daily Post that hapū and iwi hold tightly to both mana motuhake (autonomy) and tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty), but in the modern world, Te Arawa people needed to collaborate and connect with each other.
"So this is about building scale where the desires and the aspirations of our people, collectively, can contribute to transformational change by influencing as a collective.
"And that has to happen together."
Having said that, White believed it would not "impugn" the rights of hapū and iwi to have their say and to do things in their way.
Instead, the strategy workgroup had a collective vision illustrating Te Arawa people, culture and place through social, cultural, environmental and commercial wellbeing.
"That can filter down to the hapū and iwi in a way they desire it to happen as well. So it's really opening the door to connectivity to all of our people, but allowing our own individualism to be maintained as well."
A Te Arawa parliament was also proposed to "effectively manage the matters of high significance for Te Arawa with a united Te Arawa voice".
White believed there could be a Te Arawa bank but said this was ultimately a document for his children and their children to come.
"They've got the foundations, now they need to actually look at it from a point of view of 'how can we finish this? Do we need to finish it? Do we take it as it were? Or do we change it as it evolves?'
"It's the beginning of a new work for them. What they need to do now is to furnish the whare and live in it."
He said while it was not a perfect document, the message was clear - the benefits of working collaboratively would be "huge".
"This is our home, and we want to share our home. But at the end of the day, we've got to get our act together in order to do that properly."
The strategy document itself was a collaborative effort from Te Arawa. More than 1800 responses were received through online surveys, 100 surveys of Te Arawa leaders, 16 in-depth interviews with iwi and hapū māngai (spokespeople) and more.
Eraia Kiel, who helped create the document, said it was good to finally have something tangible Te Arawa could all aspire to and work together on.
"It's just really good to have some sort of commonality as we progress forward. We have always been known as a very progressive iwi and this document will help catapult us even further into the future in the real strategic direction."
Kiel said the power of having a vision was that you lived deliberately towards it.
"Myself and others want to look back when we are 30 years down the track and think 'well wasn't that an awesome journey'.
"I think we all have an obligation to our iwi. All these organisations that participated in the vision but even those that don't, we all have an obligation because we are all here on Te Arawa land so we have to do our best for the descendants of this land."
He believed that through the document, many would start working together and therefore some of the goals outlined would be achieved within the next five years.
The document had many technology goals including, hapū, iwi and marae being digitally connected.
In a video presentation on Sunday, Te Arawa Innovation Hub member Melanie Cheung (Ngāti Rangitihi) said for her, the vision was about recognising that 40 per cent of the iwi population were younger than 18.
She believed the iwi needed to do something to ensure those young people were educated.
She said watching 2-year-olds on their iPads and having rangatahi laugh at her Walkman cassette player illustrated how far technology had come in her lifetime.
"I look at these young people and I think 'oh my goodness, what are they going to do?'
"I want to see us making our own Nasa and our own Silicon Valley. That's what we need to do, but before we do that, we have to remember who we are so we can look backwards and move forwards."
She recognised Te Arawa had been working hard in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic but said in the presentation that now was the time to move forward.
"It is time to say, 'all right, as Te Arawa what else can we do?'"
Te Arawa 2050 Rōpū Whakahaere is made up of representatives from:
• Te Pūkenga Koeke o Te Arawa
• Te Pūkenga Rangatahi o Te Arawa
• Te Arawa Taiohi Toa
• Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa
• Te Arawa Whānau Ora
• Te Arawa Primary Sector INC.
• Te Arawa FOMA
• Te Arawa Lakes Trust
• Te Arawa Group Holdings
• Te Roopū Hauora o Te Arawa
• Te Arawa Fisheries
• Te Papa Tākaro o Te Arawa
• Maatua Whāngai
• Te Arawa River Iwi Trust
• Te Arawa Management Limited
• Te Tatau o Te Arawa