Ngohe Simon sits on the Taumārere Flood Management Working Group board and has been a fierce advocate of the project to help protect the townships of Ōtiria and Morewa in Northland. “Ōtiria suffers a phenomenal amount of flooding, every time it floods, we suffer”.
The spillway project has been 18 months in the making, but Ngohe Simon is now confident they have a way forward.
“It’s taken Hui, after Hui but the community now understands the project and what Northland Regional Council are trying to achieve by reducing the flood risks to Ōtiria and Moerewa”.
Ngohe Simon says that the collaboration between Māori and local government has been the key to the project’s success.
“The tact that Northland Regional Council are taking has never really been seen before up here. It works and it should be mimicked around the country”
“It’s about the relationship between Māori and the council and it’s those relationships our people need to maintain throughout this process. Our people want someone who turns up and understands. The team at NRC appreciate and acknowledge the effort that’s gone in to getting the project to this stage”.
Ngohe Simon says that having Kaitiaki (guardians) involved in Resilient River Communities projects is essential.
“To have Kaitiaki on site on these projects is the key, they have huge value”.
Chantez Connor-Kingi is Kai Whiri iwituna* for Northland Regional Council and has been working closely with Ngohe Simon, Wiremu Keretene, Tangata Whenua, She says that the approach that council and Mana Whenua have taken to working together is a true partnership.
“As Kaitiakitanga this is always how we’ve worked, and it’s about being true, doing the mahi and turning up, kanohi ki te kanohi - face to face”. Connor-Kingi says that they are working hard to change the narrative as a council.
“Mana Whenua has a lens on the council and we’re working to change that through our actions. Changing our narrative to be better and wanting to be better, demonstrates true partnership. It’s about shaping old habits gone unchecked and replacing them we the right values that delivers the one outcome, for everyone, partnership, protection, participation”.
*Kai is the action the doing, Whiri iwituna is a plait of 8 strands or more which each plait represents strength that holds me to my role, and empowering and mana enhancing hapu, mana e te whenua, engagement, He Whakaputanga, Titiri o Waitangi, kawangatanga, Manaakitanga, kotahitanga, whakawhanaungatanga, tikanga, rangatira,aroha, working as roopu, no I in team or whanau.