It has been a big year together for Te Toi Ahurangi and Te Uepū members. A year of highs and lows, excitement and frustrations – ngā piki, ngā heke. We have continued our Te Tiriti journey – learning, growing, connecting, and living our whāinga – tū kotahi, tū kaha. Our voice has been strong and united. Our leadership and actions purposeful – tātou, tātou e. And we have supported each other – awhi atu, awhi mai.

We said farewell to George Tongariro, the Industrial and Professional Vice-President, who was made redundant from Whitireia Polytechnic.

A big hole was left in our hearts and our collective being with the deaths of Whaea Kāterina Daniels and Koro Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru – these people contributed to who we are as a collective and we will honour them by standing together through the good and bad – ngā piki, ngā heke.

The sad loss of Whaea Kāterina and Koro Huirangi who guided and gave their strength to the TEU whānau gives us pause to reflect on how our knowledge and power comes through people, and we are delighted to welcome Taua Roimata Kirikiri and have her join Matua Hōne Sadler in forming our TEU Te Kāhui Kaumātua.

The collective strength and mahi of TEU over the last year have been demonstrated by our active Te Uepū voice and in Te Toi Ahurangi maintaining the right of Māori to hui, kōrero, and build our knowledge through and with our people.

Over 50 Māori members attended Hui-ā-Motu held at Te Herenga Waka; and around 40 members made up Hui Te Uepū before Annual Conference. There has been increased use of whakawhanaungatanga in both internal and external meetings, and the use of mihi/pepeha by TEU members and staff in these moments, allowing us to connect and reconnect in stronger ways.

Across the mahi of TEU, there has been a focus on advancing Te Koeke Tiriti, refreshing the Whitestreaming Report, progressing Te Kotahi Mano strategy to recruit 1000 Māori members, and discussing constitutional transformation within TEU. We have seen an increase of Māori representation within TEU’s executive; and an acknowledgement of our whakapapa, language, and culture which has meant our members can be proud of who we are and where we are from.

Locally and nationally we have seen an increased uptake of Te Koeke Tiriti. Massey University and NorthTec branches use our whāinga to discuss and solve issues collectively – this practice will continue and extend to other branches. TEU Annual Conference, TEU Council and all TEU national committees base their agendas on our whāinga to guide their Tiriti relationships and behaviours, setting their visions of how they aspire to work together.

The values in our Te Koeke Tiriti framework have also been incorporated into our industrial strategy and claims have been developed to ensure all collective agreements include Te Tiriti o Waitangi clauses and te reo Māori me ngā tikanga allowances where there were no provisions.

Māori and Pākehā members and union staff have worked strongly together and supported each other over the last year. This was particularly evident through lockdown where tangihanga leave has come under the spotlight during and post-Covid-19.

This year we have submitted strongly on the need to make Te Tiriti relationships live in the new vocational education sector and saw changes to legislation which significantly improved the way Māori and Tiriti issues were written into the law. TEU also developed resources of basic communication to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and played our part in revitalising te reo Māori, transferring knowledge, and understanding place.

Moving from strength to strength, Te Toi Ahurangi and our Te Uepū members continue to support TEU in its Tiriti journey, and on its path toward improved and more equitable working conditions for kaimahi and kaiako, better access and outcomes for tauira, and in the active promotion and defence of quality public tertiary education for the benefit of all New Zealanders.