With New Zealand is entering its 3rd consecutive week with no reported Corona-19 cases, conversations around the island nation are rising about how to use this time as a spring-board into a better and more just society.
Since April 15, young local councillors Tamatha Paul (Wellington City Councillor) and Thomas Nash (Greater Wellington Region Councillor) have been convening panel discussions with some of New Zealand leading researchers, thinkers and politicians covering a range of topics, which all have Ti Tiriti o Waitangi* at its heart, (*the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document).
As the Covid-19 lockdown closed everything in NZ down, the inspiring meetings and conversations that Tamatha and Thomas were having in real life ground to halt. They decided to regenerate those conversations in the digital world, creating a weekly panel called “The Aotearoa Town Hall”.
“Being on council means that you hear from awesome people all the time, locals with deep knowledge, high-level experts, people working hard in the community. We wanted everyone to be able to access the korero” says Tamatha.
“We know there can be no change without constitutional transformation, and this only comes from spreading the knowledge and having conversations”.
Conscious that only a certain type of people engage with the current political system, they wanted to find other ways to share about how change can come through leveraging off Ti Tiriti o Waitangi, as it is the foundational document that NZ laws can give effect through.
Some panel topics have covered Economics (with guest Kate Raworth author of Doughnut Economics), Universal Education and Income, Public Health, Whanau (Family) Focussed Responses, Climate Justice and Transportation and Urban Design.
“These conversations show how Ti Tiriti o Waitangi is relevant across all different topics and spaces, and the Town Halls show an alternative reality if it underpinned everything. These conversations are keeping people motivated and pushing for change”.
Aotearoa Town Halls are shown through Facebook live, Monday 7pm New Zealand time:
via Tamatha’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/tamathax
A big thanks to Tamatha Paul for taking time for this interview.
Te Reo Maori words frequently used in the Town Halls (www.maoridictionary.co.nz)
Rangatahi Maori – a younger generation Maori leader
Aotearoa – a name for the land also known as New Zealand
Korero – conversation, discussion, information
Mahi – work, life mission, occupation, activity
Kaupapa – agenda, topic, purpose, plan.
Tupuna – Ancestors
Iwi – tribal groupings
Hapu – larger kinship groups, subtribe, (also means pregnant)
Whanau – Extended family, (also means to give birth)
Whenua – Lands, territory, (also means placenta/afterbirth)
Kai – food
Papa kāinga – extended family villages, with clusters of dwellings, communal areas and food gardens.