Te Pūtauaki Te Maunga

Ko Pūtauaki te maunga
Ko Rangitaiki te awa
Ko Ngāti Awa, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Pikiao ngāiwi
Nō Te Teko ahau
Ko Tiaki Hunia taku ingoa

Investing in the future of Aotearoa and creating opportunities for generations to follow is a kaupapa (cause) dear to my heart and one I’m privileged to contribute to as a trustee of the Milford Foundation.

I’m from a small town in the eastern Bay of Plenty called Te Teko, it is the centre of my universe. Those of us from Te Teko also know it as Texas and provides us with an identity and heritage that we are fiercely proud of. Regardless of the societal challenges that pervade all communities and all parts of Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Teko will always be home.

I tend to reflect a lot about my upbringing in that community because of the influence it’s had on my life and continues to do so. The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is one I lived, with everyone in Te Teko, in some way or form being a mum, a dad, a nanny, a koro, an aunty, an uncle and everyone else a cousin. It was a privileged upbringing and one I’ll never forget or take for granted, but also an upbringing which I know many children and rangatahi (youth) in our communities have never been able to experience. We all have a responsibility and obligation where we can, to contribute to those in our communities less fortunate (through no fault of their own) than ourselves.

The Milford Foundation provides a platform to contribute to that through our three pillars of youth, environment and education and I hope to bring a Māori perspective to the collective approach of the Foundation to benefit everyone, an Aotearoa Inc type approach. If New Zealand Inc is New Zealand influenced for New Zealand’s benefit, and Māori Inc is Māori influenced for Māori benefit, Aotearoa Inc sits somewhere in between as Māori influenced for New Zealand’s benefit. I truly believe in this and the possibilities it provides for an abundant Aotearoa New Zealand of the future.

In 1999 Hinewehi Mohi, now Dame Hinewehi Mohi, caused somewhat of an uproar among parts of New Zealand for singing our national anthem in Te Reo (the Māori language) at the Rugby World Cup. I always found that negative response confusing, particularly as the anthem is always followed by the Haka which galvanises the country, including those who disapproved of the anthem in Te Reo Māori (the Māori language). I don’t think we can ever fully appreciate how pivotal that single act of courage from Dame Hinewehi has been on Aotearoa New Zealand. Yet a single generation later, all New Zealanders proudy sing our anthem bilingually, Te Reo Māori is increasingly becoming part of all of our everyday lives. Māori values such as Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga, Kaitiakitanga are influencing how we think, how we feel and how we act.

Already I see that approach throughout the Foundation, and demonstrated through the direction of programmes we support. I hope that I can make a positive contribution to this, and to the amazing potential of a multicultural future for Aotearoa New Zealand. To achieve that we all need to help those in need today, to build a better tomorrow. I could never make the kind of amazing impact that Dame Hinewehi has made, but I do hope that I can make a contribution that people from places like Te Teko can be proud of. Proud to be a Texan.

"It takes a village to raise a child"

Tiaki Hunia – Trustee,
Milford Foundation

Tiaki-Hunia - Milford Foundation Trustee

This article was originally featured in the Impact magazine, click here to view the magazine online.