Members of this term’s AUT Council have been welcomed with a pōwhiri at Ngā Wai o Horotiu marae.
The pōwhiri was requested by Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei who attended in support of its member Renata Blair, who has been co-opted onto the Council as a Māori representative this term.
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Māori Advancement, Pare Keiha, advocated for the return of official Māori representation on AUT’s governing body.
“It is proper that Māori have a seat around our table,” Professor Keiha says.
“That it is a representative of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei not only recognises mana whenua but also the original gifting of the land that AUT sits on.”
Renata Blair says the University has done a great job for Māori, so for him to represent tangata whenua on its Council was a big honour.
"Māori are a growing population and we see education as one of the key foundations of a successful tribe, and a successful community. I want to see more Māori coming into university to achieve higher levels of education to assist with the aspirations of their people.”
It is an honour to have the representatives of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei who attended the pōwhiri on February 24 and was testament to how happy they are with my appointment, Mr Blair says.
“It's a significant time to have somebody on the Council to represent that land that was gifted.”
There are four new faces on the 13-seat AUT Council this term: Renata Blair, Corrie Cook (professional staff representative), Professor Edwina Pio (academic staff representative) and Sisifa Liu (AUTSA representative).
Mr Cook says the pōwhiri was special to him as it was his first official event as a new Council member.
“Though I had been welcomed to the AUT whanau about 26 years ago, it was really nice to be welcomed by many friends and colleagues that I have known for many years. It provided a great sense of occasion and belonging entwined with aroha.”
Mr Cook says he aims to be the best Councillor he can be.
“The issues before the council are broad and varied, as are the skills and views of councillors. My role is to contribute my views, skills and abilities – to reflect the voters/staff faith in me."
Professor Edwina Pio says the pōwhiri was an immersive experience of being enfolded in tika, pono and aroha.
“The tikanga emphasized our shared humanity through empathy and perspective-taking, in serving all stakeholders.
“As a new council member, I continue to enact my leadership role as Professor and University Director of Diversity in my praxis as a star gazer and shape shifter.
“Facilitative processes for paradigm shifting of prevailing narratives are necessary in our volatile woven world,” Professor Pio says.
“My hope is to enrich understanding and action pertaining to the skeins of power and prejudice, through serving as a compassionate disruptor.”