I tiki mai whakawhiti te ra: A Porirua Te Tiriti based Climate Assembly

I tiki mai whakawhiti te ra.,.”, a line drawn from the famous Ngati Toa haka that speaks about the ascent into the light of day. 

In mid October 2021 we collaborated with Ngāti Toa and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Ngāti Toa (Ngāti Toa) and Te Reo o Ngā Tāngata (The People Speak Aotearoa), on the co-design and facilitation of a special hui in Porirua to discuss a community-led response to climate change. 

Early on in the planning process it became apparent that this hui could potentially become a deliberative democracy model(a model that puts conversations, diverse perspectives and understanding at the centre of the decision making), for mobilising community responses to the climate crisis in other locations across Aotearoa New Zealand. It was also important that Te Tiriti was the whāriki (the mat) on which the planning and implementation processes would be built.

Participants at the hui at Mana College, Porirua. (Image Credit: Roozbeh Karimi))

We jumped at the chance to be involved in this kaupapa, as it lined up with our own journey to become a treaty-aligned organisation, and was an opportunity to witness the collaborative approach that currently guides our mahi. 

Why a Citizen’s Assembly?

The Assembly Approach brings together people from different walks of life alongside local government, community-based organisations, and the business sector to consider a question that is important for the community and their whānau. 

The Assembly ensures whānau feel valued and that their voices are heard. When the question that lies at the heart of an Assembly is clear and driven by a community’s shared passion, it becomes a binding force for collaboration. Others may be included in the process to provide broader cultural and scientific perspectives, and provide a path for influencing elected decision-makers.


The framing question

How can we best bring ordinary people together from across Porirua to consider and map out a local climate response using a Te Tiriti based Climate Assembly (and, in so doing, promote belonging and connection to this Kaupapa across all Porirua communities?)

The hui successfully provided several positive and powerful outcomes, including:

  • Affirming that a Citizen’s Assembly can and must embody Te Tiriti ō Waitangi relationships.
  • Emphasising the importance of bringing together whānau and communities to talk about important issues through drawing on wānanga, talanoa and other proven local processes that encourage conversations.

From here, those involved will continue to build on the momentum, with some vital next steps: 

  • Detailing and resourcing an action plan for the Assembly (linked to local priorities, timelines, and willingness to commit).
  • Deciding what the Assembly will look and feel like (its identity).
  • Agreeing on a tikanga to guide governance, management, and community leadership.
  • Energising representation from youth groups and marginalised communities.
  • Getting the message out to others.

L-R: IACT Facilitators, Aram Wu and Brian Ruawai-Hamilton (Image credit: Roozbeh Karimi)

Since the hui in October we’ve been talking with the Porirua Assembly partners about potential future collaboration to support the Porirua Assembly as it moves forward, e.g. strengthening capacity to promote diversity and inclusion, securing funding, developing a governance structure and supporting learning. 

This was exciting mahi to be a part of, especially the joint planning which ensured that the hui was iwi-led and that diverse community groups were included in the discussions of Porirua’s climate crisis response. We are now reflecting this learning back into our work on belonging and inclusion. More to come in 2022!