Renowned te reo advocate Waihoroi Shortland has been named chair of Te Mātāwai, the new entity tasked with leading te reo Māori revitalisation on behalf of iwi and Māori. Te Wānanga o Raukawa tumuaki Mereana Selby has been named deputy chair.
The decision was made during the inaugural meeting in Ōtaki this week.
Mr Shortland says it was an invigorating and productive hui where real progress was made towards establishing the foundation for the working relationship between Māori and the Crown to ‘breathe new life into Māori language initiatives.’
“Kua takoto te papa, me tīmata ngā mahi - the foundation is down, the work can begin,” he said.
“It was an amazing experience to observe the myriad of skill sets Māoridom had assembled at the board table each driven by a passion for te reo.
“More opportunities for people across society at every level to begin their individual or collective journey to Māori language actualisation is the challenge the Minister of Māori Development has laid before us and we have accepted.
“We have put in place working groups who by the end of the year lead to the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer, negotiate a purchase agreement with the Minister, and set up the inaugural Rūnanga Reo (an executive group of board members) who will engage directly with responsible cabinet ministers, to plan a strategic way forward for te reo Māori initiatives.”
Mr Shortland and Ms Selby will head the establishment phase of the group over the next six months. The appointment of the two roles was a decision made by the board to allow it time to assess the broader responsibilities that come with the positions, said Mr Shortland.
“We may be a new organisation with much to do ahead of us, but we can move forward knowing that the future survival of the language relies on us all - the Crown and Māori - coming up with the means to change the Māori language landscape,” he said.
“Work on that shared vision begins with our inaugural meeting with Government Ministers at the end of next month.”