Image: Chair of the National Maori Authority with Community Leaders at a suicide prevention march in Western Sydney
The New Zealand Maori Council and the National Maori Authority will join forces and take their message on the road to Australia for Waitangi celebrations this weekend to try and ensure Maori are connected to Iwi, Hapu and Maori Affairs back home. Maori Council Executive Director and Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has said that Iwi find it increasingly difficult to stay connected to members living in Australia, communicate with them, keep them informed and also understand their own needs.
“There are more than 170,000 Maori estimated to be living in Australia at the moment. Some of them have been there a short time and some for several generations but what we do know is that increasingly more of our people need to remain connected with Aotearoa. We are seeing, for example, an increase in the number of Iwi travelling to Australia when it comes to Treaty settlements and negotiations and also the difficulty of collected data of where Iwi members might be residing. We are seeing an increase in the number of Maori who are being deported back to New Zealand with hundreds waiting for deportation and we are also seeing intergenerational creep around major social issues with our people.” Says Matthew Tukaki, Chair of the National Maori Authority and Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council.
“Another big challenge will be ensuring that as many of our people, no matter where they are, have a voice when it comes to the forthcoming Royal Commission into Child Abuse. We all know the estimates – that about 70% of those in State or Institutional care were Maori – and many of them now reside in Australia. So, its important that they know they can tell their stories and not be afraid to do so.” Tukaki said
“One of the other things we can and should do is look at ways and means of harnessing the “Maori Diaspora” – can we increase the number of Maori small business and Iwi business being able to export directly through networks that other Maori in Australia might have."
"What can we do to harness the potential to build jobs back home in New Zealand while at the same time strengthen the very ties that bind us.” He said
“One of the things that we will be doing is establishing a database at the National Maori Authority where people will be able to register their details that can then be shared with Iwi who then have a potential direct line to increase communications and updates. The other thing that we are exploring is having a look at ensuring if someone is not aware of their own whakapapa then how might they be able to access those resources.” Tukaki said
New Zealand Maori Council will also be presented at Waitangi this year supporting programs from health and wellbeing to suicide prevention. Waitangi Day celebrations begin early in Australia where large Maori population bases exist such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
(All costs incurred are being covered individually with no claims or costs covered be either of the organisations).