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A Spectacular Public Sector Māori Cultural Festival on 25 November 2023

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Ministry of Justice Joins Forces to Host Te Kōnohete:
A Spectacular Public Sector Māori Cultural Festival on 25 November 2023

The Ministry of Justice is collaborating to host the highly anticipated Te Kōnohete, a captivating Public Sector Māori Cultural Festival, on November 25, 2023. This extraordinary event, aimed at promoting and celebrating Māori culture, promises to be a mesmerising display of talent, tradition, and unity.

The Birth of Te Kōnohete: A Journey of Cultural Promotion

This extraordinary festival has its roots in the dedicated efforts of Alex Holes, the then Director of Te Wāhapu – Ministry of Justice OTR unit, and a group of like-minded individuals who established the very first MoJ kapahaka (dance group) team. Their intention was to promote and honour the rich heritage of Māori traditions.

Originating in 2004, Te Kōnohete was initiated by the Ministry of Justice. The name “Te Kōnohete” was inspired by Hiria Pointon, an advisor of Te Wāhapu and Te Ātiawa Kaumātua, the late Sam Jackson. The inaugural concert commenced as an internal Ministry of Justice event, with the unwavering support of Belinda Clarke, then the Secretary for Justice and CEO. In addition to MoJ’s involvement, the event featured esteemed groups such as the Waitangi Tribunal waiata group, the Office of Treaty Settlements waiata group, the Wellington District Court Te Reo Māori Class, and the community kapahaka group, te Ata Kimihia.

Years of Evolution: Passing the Torch

After the successful debut, the Ministry of Justice continued to sponsor and promote Te Kōnohete in 2005 and 2006. However, recognising the festival’s potential to foster cultural unity beyond their organisation, the Ministry of Justice handed over the responsibility to the New Zealand Police College in 2007, with the blessing of the Police Superintendent. This torch was subsequently passed on to the Ministry of Education in 2009, followed by New Zealand Defence in 2010 and Wellington City Council from 2011 to 2014. The responsibility then returned to the NZ Police Force in 2015 and 2016, and later to the Ministry of Education in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, Te Puni Kōkiri, in collaboration with Te Tumu Paeroa and Te Taurawhiri i te reo Māori, took charge of Te Kōnohete. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a pause in the festival’s journey from 2020 to 2022.

Te Kōnohete Vision and Purpose: Honouring Te Ao Māori

At the heart of Te Kōnohete lies a profound vision and purpose, to celebrate and embrace the values of te ao Māori and unite the Public Sector in promoting whanaungatanga (kinship), waiata (song), te reo Māori (Māori language), me ōnā tikanga (customs).

Re-igniting Te Kōnohete: A Glorious Return

Earlier this year, the decision was made to reignite Te Kōnohete, and the Department of Māori Development, Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), hosted an important meeting. Five public agencies, driven by a shared commitment to cultural heritage, joined forces to form the core organising and management committee for Te Kōnohete 2023. These esteemed agencies include Manatū Ahu Matua (MPI), Te Arawhiti , Oranga Tamariki, Toitū Te Whenua (LINZ), and Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori (Māori Language Commission),

Taking center stage at Te Kōnohete 2023 will be the esteemed presence of Andrew Kibblewhite, the Secretary for Justice and CEO, representing Te Tāhū o te Ture, the Ministry of Justice. His involvement will underscore the commitment of the Ministry of Justice to this magnificent celebration of Māori culture.

As the enchanting words of the ancient tale go, “Kai te pō te timatatanga mai o te waiatatanga mai, o ngā Atua. Ki te whaiao, ki te ao marama, ki te ao tūroa, ki te ao pūoro.
Ka kite i te hihiri, me te hīrangi a Hineraumati rāua ko tana tama a Tānerore.”

Translated, they mean, “Twas in the night the Gods sang the world into the light, into the natural world, into the world of music. Hineraumati, the summer maiden, and her son Tānerore appear in the shimmering heat haze of summer.”

Te Kōnohete 2023 promises to be an amazing spectacle where Māori culture will be showcased, and the spirit of unity and appreciation will resonate throughout the Public Sector and beyond. The countdown begins for this grand celebration that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all who attend.

By Tamaterangi Andrew

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