Symposium aims to build Māori and Ainu indigenous relations

By Talisa Kupenga
  • North Island: East Coast

Gisborne District Councillor Josh Wharehinga is part of a small delegation travelling to Japan to strengthen indigenous ties between Māori and Japan's Ainu people. The trip comes after the former Māori Development Minister visited the Ainu people last year.

Josh Wharehinga is one of five representatives hand-picked to be hosted by The Government of Japan for the Ainu-Māori Symposium.

Ko tāna "It's definitely a sharing of information and it's definitely a sharing of cultural practise as well."

Wharehinga says the trip, sponsored by The Asia New Zealand Foundation and Te Puki Kokiri, provides a platform to further discussions around government investment with indigenous peoples and the backing of indigenous rights.

"I do want to help strengthen those relationships and kind of give a practical lens between the Japanese Government, the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Office and also the Ainu whānau of Japan and I definitely hope to build the relationships between our government and their government but also between Māori and Ainu."

The symposium will expand on relationships established by Te Ururoa Flavell last year.

"There's a lot of governance stuff that we can do across all governments that work with indigenous peoples in order to be able to not only support indigenous practise in principle but actually practically by resourcing."

The delegation returns to New Zealand Tuesday.