Irish cabinet minister on mission to build closer ties between NZ and Ireland
Irish Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly is currently in New Zealand and received his a special pōwhiri on Whāngārā Marae. The cabinet minister is in Gisborne and is looking to connect with Māori businesses, culture and arts.
Barry Souter of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise jokingly reflected that the Irish cabinet minister was worried about going to a Māori environment as all he knew about Māori was through the national sport, rugby.
"I mea mai a ia ko ngā tāngata whenua o Aotearoa, ngā mea mōhio nei a ia i roto i te ao whutupōro, he toa katoa rātou nā reira mataku mai ia te haramai ki te Tai Rāwhiti."
The minister was treated to kapa haka from the Te Matatini 2017 champs, Te Kapa Haka o Whāngārā Mai Tawhiti. The minister was moved by the pōwhiri, saying that while the Irish are proud of their welcoming ceremony, the pōwhiri was quite an exceptional experience.
"In Ireland we talk about the cead mile failte, the one hundred thousand welcomes. And we are rightfully proud of our welcome in Ireland but the welcome I got here, the Māori welcome I received tonight here is just beyond belief."
Mr Daly says that Brexit is a catalyst as to why Ireland is now looking further afield to try and find new trading partners. He remarked on the similarities between New Zealand and Ireland on the importance of maintaining language, culture and tradition.
"I don‘t think there’s any two countries in the world who would be as comparable in our passion to promote our particular, unique heritage, and our culture, and our language, and our traditions. I think we have a lot to learn from each other and to celebrate with each other in that journey."
Local Māori say they are open to more people from overseas building relationships. Derek Lardelli of Ngāti Konohi says fellow indigenous peoples from the world over are all welcome on his marae.
"Mō te tautukuroa mō te tauhokohoko ranei anei rā taku whakautu sing "ngaa whare pā ēnā huakina". Kei te puare tonu ngā whare pā o te Tai Rāwhtii ki ngā iwi taketake o te ao."
It is hoped that this meeting will lead to stronger relationships between the Irish and Māori.