Council keen to boost cultural awareness

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A focus on cultural education is a priority for Central Otago District Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs.
‘‘It’s become really important to me that, as a council, we grow our cultural competency.’’
As a treaty partner, the council needed to acknowledge iwi in an appropriate way, she said.
‘‘We are doing a whole suite of things that increase that engagement.’’
Renovation of the council offices provided an opportunity to name a set of meeting rooms in te reo Maori.
The exception was the Bill McIntosh meeting room, named after the former mayor.
Workshops with local cultural advisers were conducted to devise suitable names.
‘‘We talked about some of the historical stories of this place, some of the landmarks, some of the meanings of certain names that exist here that are largely unknown.’’
Names were then finalised for the new meeting rooms that were ‘‘incredibly fitting, and beautiful names for the building.’’
The new meeting room names are Te Ruru (a place of shelter), Haehaeata (first to see the light), Whare Tuhono (a place to come together), Purotu (clear, transparent), Te Awatea (the first light of the day), Tiro Whanui (broad horizons, the big picture), Manuherekia and Mata-au, the latter two named for the rivers.
It was just one part of efforts at the council to engage more with cultural awareness and understanding across the organisation, she said.
Discussions were taking place with Aukaha — the development arm of Ngai Tahu.
‘‘We’ve been talking about a three- to five-year work programme between them and us.’’
Staff were also engaging with te reo, ‘‘understanding more about what is appropriate tikanga when meeting Maori and going on a marae.’’
‘‘The way I look at this is there are two entities that are here indefinitely.
‘‘One of them is iwi and that is by right, and the other is council, and that is by legislation, so the idea that we work together is completely logical.
‘‘We both have an indefinite interest in the outcome for the communities here.’’