Sport Northland Bi-Cultural Journey Takes a Major Step Forward

For the last 15 or so years Sport Northland has been on a journey towards being a bi-cultural organisation – with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of Māori who are physically active, to in turn positively impact on their well-being.


And while operationally we have made big strides in that journey, the Sport Northland board has been slower to progress (although the last couple of years has seen significant learning occur for the board-as-a-whole).


Three years ago the board set a goal of working towards co-governance with Māori – specifically, that the board consist of 50% Maori. At the organisation’s 2021 AGM held recently, two trust deed remits were unanimously passed by members present to ensure this goal becomes a reality.


The first was a resolution to acknowledge in the trust deed that He Whakaputanga (the Declaration of Independence, signed, mainly by Northern Tribes, in 1835) and Te Tiriti o Waitangi (signed five years later) are Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding documents and that this confirms Sport Northland’s commitment to upholding the mana of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, including both the articles and the principles of the document.

This in turn recognises the organisation’s partnership with tangata whenua and the protection of Māori culture and taonga. The belief is that a strong bi-cultural foundation is critical to our identity and wellbeing and that Aotearoa New Zealand will realise its full potential in play, active recreation and sport when tangata whenua and all New Zealanders are able to participate and succeed as themselves.

The second resolution was passed to amend the composition of the Sport Northland board and improve the role and function of the Board Appointments Panel.

This changes the structure from six elected trustees to three elected and three appointed (in addition to the four trustees appointed by the Northland Councils).

Sport Northland’s partnership with Te Kahu o Taonui, the Tai Tokerau Iwi Chair’s Collective, will see them appoint one trustee to the board, in addition to a Te Kahu o Taonui representative being added to the Board Appointments Panel, who will in turn be responsible for recruiting the other two Māori appointed trustees.

This last change will allow the board to reach the 50% goal once the current recruitment process is completed. This is a significant milestone for the organisaation that is aligned with the He Whakaputanga/Te Tiriti o Waitangi wording now in the trust deed.

It will ensure that strategic decisions made at the board table are equitable and are made with all Northlanders in mind. The journey that the organisation has been on has been difficult at times, and I’m sure that will continue to be the case with these latest changes, but Sport Northland believes that it will give us the foundation required to work towards our ultimate goal of seeing all Northlanders move more for better well-being.


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