Te Rōpū Māori Names Te Kaihāpai and Tumuaki Takirua at Bi-Election

Te Rōpū Māori Names Te Kaihāpai and Tumuaki Takirua at Bi-Election

Why did everyone hold their events last Wednesday?

Te Rōpū Māori held their SGM/bi-election last Wednesday, April 10 – the third and final time you’ll be seeing that date in the news section this week, promise. The election was called to fill the positions of Tumuaki Takirua (Co-President) and Te Kaihāpai (Treasurer).

Te Rōpū Māori is the Otago University Students’ Association counterpart. “It has quite similar credentials, similar responsibilities, it’s very parallel,” said Gemella Reynolds-Hatem, the Te Rōpū Māori Tumuaki/President. The election was held to fill the positions that were not already filled in last year's election. 

In an email sent to all tauira Māori prior to the event rallying them to participate in the election, Aliyah Tautuhi-Fraser said, “The bi-elections are a crucial aspect of our democratic process, as they determine the individuals who will represent our Māori student body.” 

First on the agenda was the announcement of the financial position of Te Kaihāpai. The role was given to Isobel Edwards-Jull, who’d already had multiple interviews with members of the executive team. “It’s a pretty vital role in Te Rōpū Māori because it [involves] managing all of the financial side of things,” said Isobel. “Te Rōpū Māori creates a space for all of us Māori students to get together and hang out, it's a whānau environment.” 

The position of Tumuaki Takirua was decided a little differently. At the meeting, they called for nominations, and Distance Takamori was put forward as the sole nominee. She was unanimously voted in and is now TRM’s Tumuaki Takirua, alongside Gemella. Critic is sure that the shared workload will be much appreciated by Gemella, who described a schedule at the last OUSA exec meeting that could rival the Prime Minister’s.

Distance said she was “over the moon.” As an Invercargiller, she wanted people to know that “people from small towns can make big differences.” She said she looks forward to helping Gemella out in her role and representing Te Rōpū Māori. 

Gemella emphasised the importance of both positions, as well as Te Rōpū Māori itself within the University: “It is basically our second home, but it’s also our major support system for us as Māori here,” she said. “We’re indigenous people within a western institution, and because of that, we are already behind a lot of our Pākehā counterparts […] a lot of us come from different journeys of life, different areas of Te Ao Māori, and on different avenues within our Māori tanga. It’s basically creating a foundation for our Māori tauira […] to be unapologetically Māori within the domains of a Pākehā society system.”

This article first appeared in Issue 7, 2024.
Posted 2:12pm Sunday 14th April 2024 by Harriette Boucher.