I experienced the turning of a tide last Friday night. A catalyst for a different tomorrow. An example of Maori self-determination succeeding at the very highest level. Yes, I was privileged to be amongst approximately 700 people, including the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, celebrating excellence in Maori Farming.
The announcement that Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) had won the Ahuwhenua Trophy saw a large contingent of Ngapuhi rise to their feet in explosive celebration. The sense of pride and passion was clear. The Ahuwhenua Trophy remains the pre-eminent accolade to win in Maori farming and is recognised as the most prestigious and comprehensively judged award in New Zealand. I was heartened to see the support of other iwi and hapu from throughout the North there in support of the Trust and event. To me, it signified collective strength, ownership and recognition of hard-won success. As the Chair of the Trust, Sonny Tau, had stated earlier ‘at iwi level, this competition means everything’.
When one considers the need for aspirational role modelling within the ‘heart’ of Ngapuhi, it doesn’t get much better than this. It is an achievement that needs to be celebrated and shared as a community and as a district (plans are amidst!) The impact the win had on members of the whanau on the night was testament enough of the sacrifice made to change the tide. To work towards a better tomorrow, with vision, clear process and hard yards.
As I was sitting at this amazing gala dinner, I reflected on legacy. That the world we live in today is the legacy shaped by decisions of those that walked before us. That these decisions have brought us to this very place. And although the odd individual stands out – for both incredible, horrendous and everything-in-between actions – the reality is that people stood with, against or were just indifferent and thus became part of the collective outcome.
As I consider where we could be heading and recognise the need for strong leadership, brave leadership to step up and counter the current flow, I am incredibly encouraged by those that are trying. Those people that are prepared to put their heads above the parapet and work towards a better future – because it isn’t easy to go against the tide. The key point here, though, is that all leaders are part of the team. And success in any form is always the outcome of a collective approach.
ORT would not be where it is today without collective buy-in and working as a unit. It is through their collective vision and clear understanding of where they want to be, who they want to be (i.e. building their legacy) that they have managed to achieve such significant success. And all credit to them.