Iwi internship first of its kind

Two Victoria University of Wellington students are the first in the country to undertake an iwi internship at Te Tatau o Te Arawa, the Te Arawa and Rotorua Lakes Council partnership board.

Iwi interns Ataria Sharman and Alan Hunt stand outside Marae
Iwi interns Ataria Sharman and Alan Hunt

Established in 2015, Te Tatau o Te Arawa is an elected board representing the collective interests of Te Arawa and strengthening the relationship between the Rotorua Lakes Council and Te Arawa. It is the only Partnership Board of its kind in New Zealand and Victoria Māori Studies honours students Ataria Sharman and Alan Hunt were invited to complete inaugural internships with the Board.

During the internship Ataria focused her research on the modes and levels of engagement between the Board and the Rotorua Lakes Council, while Alan researched key performance indicators in local government.

“It was so cool to be part of something bigger and use the skills I learned at Victoria to give back to the community. Being a descendant of Te Arawa waka myself, it was great to connect back to the Rotorua area,” says Ataria.

The students presented interim and final findings to the members of Te Tatau o Te Arawa and at the conclusion of the internship, both Ataria and Alan held a seminar as part of Victoria’s Te Kawa a Māui Seminar Series, attended by University staff and students.

Te Tatau o Te Arawa Executive Officer Jude Pani says: “Working with such talented rangatahi fills me with great hope. Having Ataria and Alan undertaking their internships with us was of real value to Te Tatau o Te Arawa. They helped us review and analyse some of our key strategic documentation, which gave us insight into how we could improve our processes.”

“Because the Partnership Board is a new and unique arrangement with the Rotorua Lakes Council, the reports that the students wrote will provide tangible benefits for both parties to build the relationship,” says Dr Maria Bargh, Head of Māori Studies at Te Kawa a Māui.

Although these internships were a first for Te Tatau o Te Arawa, the iwi internship is a Māori Studies honours level Kaupapa Turua/Special Topic at Victoria. It provides selected students with the opportunity to gain insights into the operations of an iwi organisation, the roles and responsibilities of iwi representatives, resource consent processes and/or iwi negotiations with the Crown.