PSA Kaumātua Hone Witana
Unuhia te rito o te harakeke
kei hea te kōmako e kō
ki mai ki āhau e aha te mea nui
o tēnei ao
māku e ki atū
Pluck out the heart of the flax
where will the bellbird sing?
tell me what is the most important
thing in this world
I will tell you
it is people
it is people
it is people
Ko Ngatokimatawhaorua te waka
Ko Nukutawhiti te tangata
Ko Tāwhitirahi me Whangatauatia nga maunga
Ko Te Awapoka me Te Wainui nga awa
Ko Te Oneroa a Toohe te moana
Ko Ngāti Kaha, Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Waiora, Whanau Moana, Ngai Takato, Ngāti Ueoneone, me Ngāti Kairewa nga hapū
Ko Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu, ara me Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu ngā iwi
The whakataukī above was expressed by Meringāroto as she was about to be married to Puhipi. They were both ancestors of mine, and the whakataukī alerted her people of danger from another iwi.
The whakataukī has inspired me to be confident as I walk through life and to challenge inequity in my working life.
After leaving the very far north as a seventeen year old, I headed to the South Island in the mid seventies to begin an apprenticeship through the Māori trade training schemes. I then worked as a heavy equipment engineer, before becoming a school teacher and now an education evaluator at the Education Review Office.
A few years ago I was also a trustee of Te Rūnanga mo Te Aupouri. This was a learning curve that involved progressing our treaty claims and settlement process. Alongside my mahi as a teacher of History and Māori studies, it strengthened my awareness of the historical events that have caused inequities in this country that have lasted to this day.
This has also been reflected in my belief in unionism for the common worker, to support those that are struggling, and provide a living wage so they can thrive.
My involvement with unions began in the Engineers Union where I became a delegate, then as a teacher with NZEI and PPTA. After joining ERO about 20 years ago, I became a PSA delegate and later a Māori Enterprise delegate.
I have also been part of Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina a few years ago, and was humbled to be asked to be the new PSA Kaumātua in 2021.
I would like to acknowledge the outstanding leadership of former Kaumātua Kiwhare Mihaka who passed away in November 2021. His shoes will be difficult to fill.
I also acknowledge Kuia Georgina Kerr who encouraged me to take up this position, those I have worked with through the union who have inspired me, and the support I have had from many elders and leaders over the years.
No reira, kia kotahi te hoe o te waka, kai u te haere ki mua
Therefore let’s paddle this waka in union together to ensure we go forward
Ngā manaakitanga kia koutou