Written on 5 February 2021 by Peter Hughes

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Tomorrow is a significant day for all New Zealanders: Te Rā o Waitangi | Waitangi Day. It is a day that will mean very different things to different people. 

Waitangi Day of course commemorates the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi | the Treaty of Waitangi, but it is also an important time for us to reflect on the relationship between Māori and the Crown.  

The Government is committed to improving services and outcomes for Māori and strengthening the Crown’s relationships with Māori. 

As public servants, we have a responsibility to support the Crown in its relationships with Māori under the Treaty, and we must develop and maintain the capability of the Public Service to engage with Māori and to understand Māori perspectives. These requirements, among others, are now legislated and set out in the Public Service Act 2020 –  and advancing this is a top priority for the Public Service Leadership Team this year.  

Monday will be a holiday for many of us – and I hope you enjoy the day off. But I also encourage you to use this time to think about how we are engaging with Māori – and how we might do better. Te Arawhiti has a suite of resources to develop more meaningful engagement with Māori, which I recommend looking at.   

It is also important to remember that the Act aims to unify the Public Service to fulfil its stewardship responsibility to support the Crowns relationships with Māori. A whakatauki comes to mind: 

He waka eke noa | A canoe which we are all in with no exception. 

In other words, we’re all in this together.  

Kia pai tō rā whakatā | Have a great weekend!

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