19 December 2014
Confronted by the face of the future, the Rotorua District Council has backed plans to go ahead with implementing an historic partnership proposal with Te Arawa.
Tania Tapsell, only a year in the job as a councillor, laid down the challenge for fellow councillors at a council meeting yesterday attended by about 200 people. It was a stellar performance from the young councillor, who quietened dissenters.
She decried what she described as the divisive politics that had emerged during the campaign against the Mayor Steve Chadwick-led proposal. She and other councillors voted to support in principle a Te Arawa proposal on the basis, however, that their support be subject to a special consultative process next year.
“At the end of the day we should not forget the people who got us here and what land we are on,” Cr Tapsell said. Te Arawa, together with the council, would continue to contribute to the growth of Rotorua.
“I have to express my disappointment at how divisive this whole conversation has been.
“Coming in as the younger generation, we are connected and we are open. There is no racism in my generation.
“I want to make that very clear how disappointed I am to come into a situation where I’m getting questions that end with ‘because you’re Maori’.”
Cr Tapsell refuted any suggestion she got on to council because she was Maori.
“Yes I’m Maori but I am the future. I’m part of the community. My family have lived here for many generations”
She said the Te Arawa partnership proposal was not about racism and the decision the council was making was not based on race. Rather, the decision was based on forming an effective partnership.
In a plea to fellow councillors, she asked them to please not make mistakes that have happened in the past and, instead, look to the future.
“Imagine if people had thought that when Rotorua was first created – ‘what can we do together’ – and if they look back in 100 years’ time when we discussed this, what do we want them to say? That we missed out on an opportunity?”
Councillors had an obligation to seek out what was wrong but they also had an obligation and the courage to seek out what was right.