Sharp minds brought together for heritage panel discussion

A panel of some our country’s leaders in religion, race relations, heritage, arts, business and Māoridom took to the stage during Taranaki’s inaugural Heritage Month in October.

Heritage panellists mid-talk at Taranaki Heritage Month.
Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon. Courtesy of Taranaki Daily Newsexpand/collapse

300 people gathered at the Plymouth International Hotel, New Plymouth, on 6 October for one of the key events in Heritage Taranaki’s programme of activities running throughout Taranaki until 5 November.

The audience heard some great wisdom from a six-strong panel comprising Claire Craig, Deputy CE Policy for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga; Jay Ruka, Taranaki Cathedral Dean; Amanda Clinton-Gohdes, New Plymouth District Councillor; artist Brett Graham; Dion Tuuta, Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa CE; and Meng Foon, Race Relations Commissioner. The moderator was Dr Ruakere Hond, Māori advocate and community leader. `

All the panellists spoke of their upbringing and what helped them understand their whakapapa, the history around them and to appreciate that we must respect going forward, our families, our upbringing, to understand what we have today and seek for tomorrow.

Claire Craig said that heritage is in many ways everything, everywhere, all at once. It is the things, places and practices that demonstrate who we are, and where we have come from. “In this sense, heritage can, will be, and is many different things, optimally identified and described by each individual or agreed collective,” she commented.

She stressed the nature of our work and purpose of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, set out through the vision ‘tairangahia a tua whakarere; tātakihia ngā reanga o āmuri ake nei – honouring the past, inspiring the future’. She said that Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is blessed with the wisdom of both its board and its Māori Heritage Council and is guided by the Council’s vision for Māori Heritage available to be discovered in Tapuwae.

Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon, said that the country can’t move forward without looking back at its past. “Everything has a whakapapa. If we open our minds and create an environment to enable everybody to participate in the heritage world, or the whakapapa world, then we will be the richer as a nation in terms of building nationhood.”

Taranaki Catheral Dean Jay Ruka said that if we want to sit in this room and we want to learn about heritage, we’re doing it for the purpose of our tamariki, mokopuna, our children and our grandchildren and trying to create a better space for them.

There was strong endorsement in the audience to have this kind of event, a kōrero on what heritage means to each and everyone, as part of future Taranaki Heritage Month programmes. Congratulations were extended to Heritage Taranaki for this initiative with support from the three constituent local and regional councils and various funding organisations in Taranaki.

David Watt