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'Manouvre to Vancouver'

11 October 2019

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Chairman Update   

It was 24 years ago that I first came here and I’ve been here only once since, that was 10 years ago on our way to Alaska, where we took part in a whale hunt 30kms over ice upon the Arctic seas.


Our present first official visit is to the Musqueam Reserve and Museum. The Musqueam people are part of the Salish Nation, that straddles both the Canada and US coastline and they have been here for at least 4,000 years. There are 60 tribes in the Salish Nation with around 230,000 members. The Musqueam estate has shrunk from millions of hectares to 200, which they now live on. There are 1600 of them. They are guardians of the Dai ka, aka, the Fraser River and everything that lives in and around it, including the salmon and some go fishing just for the halibut! They are well ahead of us on somethings and well behind on others, but they show us their long house where all their ceremonies still take place – like our wharenui and wharekai. They have a huge round house too where I think they got the idea from Mohaka...They are pretty serious, earnest people  with property, mining, tourism and fishing enterprises too, yet are almost the invisible city. They host us with huge manaaki to the slow but deep beat of their drums, thrums and chants. Sadly they are struggling with their reo as there are over 60 languages in this province, so I’m chuffed that our Kura Reo is expanding and exploding, as we sit here hearing the tales of woe as Otatara and Nuhaka reverberate to the strains o te reo rangatira. Wekengeru Tatere ma!


We are here at the World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF) with TPK, led by Rahera Ohia (Nanaia didn’t make it), MFAT by Martin Wikaira and NZTE by Matt Ritchie. Monty Morrison is here to hand the mauri over from Rotorua, while Richard Jefferies and Rachel Petero are here from Te Ohu Whaiao, a consultancy group. Maara Andrews is with us - she has been here for 11 years, contracting in health and social services both here and Hawaii, with her is Patrick Hape - Hine and Robin’s son, who looks at home here as he does in Te Hauke. They also advise MFAT and NZTE here and give us valuable local intel on the local First Nations tribes.


However there is a strike of 300 hotel workers on our street and they’re banging drums, yelling slogans and marching around the next door hotel, we support them for a bit – but this goes on 24/7 and they’ve been at it for a month now.


Over a beer and a steak, the NZ Ambassador to Canada described Vancouver as a cross between Wellington and Queenstown. Mountain snow-caps, forests, high-rise and harbour seascape all within viewing and biking distance, but it’s also the most expensive city in the world to live in even though it is the most liveable city followed by Melbourne. I’d normally walk it every morning but I pulled a calf muscle last week, so Mere and I bussed it on a hop on - hop off tour for a whole day from the seas to the mountains and every corner of the city - pretty special. The heart of the city is Gastown named after Gassy Jack Dayton, who opened the very first pub here and the town, then city, grew around him. He got the name Gassy Jack from the fact he would blow off at both ends with regularity, which is something that connects him to Kahungunu immediately. In the streets and in the shops, its spot the Canadian. It’s more like an ethnic Asian city without the thunder rumble and roar of people, high rise projects and traffic. Everything is so orderly and calm. One million cruise tourists visit each year alone, the place is a silent hive of activity like worker ants going about their business efficiently but quietly.


There are 700 delegates from 10 countries and 150 or so tribes here at WIBF. I have two missions. Firstly to gain support for a Global Tribal Hui in Dubai 2021; and secondly to hook up with the fishing tribes of Canada, Australia and Chile, which I have done so already and we are now ready to move on to tribal global synergies in the fishing world. I suspect some of them think I’m nuts and sometimes I think I am too, but some suspect we might just pull it off which I’m counting on of course and they don’t want to miss out!


Today we heard speakers from Canada, Oklahoma. Chile, Kenya, Australia, Alaska, who covered subjects of tribal tax exemptions, restoring ancient trading routes, turning oil and gas waste into decreasing global warming, tourism in the Andes, desert honey and beekeeping and a beautiful rendition on the didgeridoo. The final First Nations speaker today talked of the nine steps he found to success:

1. Know who you are!

2. Have a vision. If you can’t see it you can’t be it!

3. Plan to get there. No plan, no can.

4. Values won’t fail you.

5. Courage under fire

6. Adapt to change

7. Dream team- build it

8. Learn to keep learning

9. Action - commit to your vision.


His name is Graham Stedman, an author of distinction AND just happens to be Oprah Winfrey’s partner. A good way to end the day! He was groovy, a groover in Vancouver! 


Naity ra!

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