The call from the Māori king to create a space of Kotahitanga – unity, togetherness, solidarity and collective action – for Māori and non-Māori at the National Hui Aa Motu held in January was embraced by over 10,000 attendees.

We were honoured to have three representatives from our team attend, to listen and soak up the wairua and oneness of the event. John, Sharlene and Cyril were deeply encouraged alongside twelve thousand other voices to move forward as one, in an endeavour to create solidarity and united belief within Aotearoa.

We’ve made so much progress as a nation. We see it reflected in our use of te reo, in our architecture, in our interactions and connections that bind us together as one country – and we must be careful not to be taken backwards.

As a philanthropic family foundation, we are on a constant journey of learning – and being a part of such an impactful hui has underpinned that by prioritising Te Ao Māori knowledge and aspirations to encourage integrated approaches – it’s possible to make a real difference when we are unified. We came away with a renewed sense vigour, eager to continue to connect with whānau, hapu and Marae to build blocks, move forward together and stand united in our beliefs.

As a funder we will continue to listen to te hau o te kāinga – who know what is best for their people. We are supportive of Māori-led solutions and will continue to be a vehicle to support Māori aspirations to come to life.  We will continue to be a partner of Māori and behave in a manner that is consistent with Te Tiriti. We will also continue to support Māori to connect to te taio – for if te taio is well, the people are well and will thrive.

We were also encouraged to see so many of the great Māori-led organisations we support at the hui.  We look forward to joining with other funders in support of Māori development opportunities.

Finally, we were inspired by the next wave of phenomenal rangitahi. They were brilliant and thankful in their acknowledgement for hard work that has been done by their ancestors and tupuna. They were clear they are paving their own way to do things differently. Their connection to te taio has been lived and breathed from day one and standing on the shoulders of their tupuna – they assured them ‘it’s our turn now – step aside and take a well-earned rest’. We are encouraged by the inspirational rangatahi of tomorrow who, despite the challenges, gave the hui a great sense of hope.