Blog: Kaputī with Lamorna Ahitapu-Rogers

Aug 24, 2021 | latest

Kia ora e te whānau.

I whakapapa to Whakatōhea through both my gran and grandad. My gran is Dixie Biddle, Ūpokorehe, Ngāti Patumoana and Ngāti Tamahaua hapū. My earliest memories of the Coast are visiting Uncle Boye Biddle (gran’s brother) and Aunty Awhi in Kutarere so Ūpokorehe is my heart hapū. My grandad is Rahiri (Les) Pukepuke, Ngāti Ngahere, Ngāti Rua, Ngāti Ira and again Ūpokorehe hapū. On grandad’s side, we are Patukeha hapū of Ngāpuhi, wed to Whakatōhea since our tupuna Moka Te Kainga Mataa (Ngāpuhi chief from Ngai Tawake) took our tipuna Noho Kupenga Tipare (Whakatōhea chieftainess from Ngāti Ira) to be his wife.  

My mum is Peti Te Ha Pukepuke-Ahitapu who was born at Ohaki Wainui and grew up at Te Rere Pā. I grew up in Te Waipounamu where my dad’s whānau come from (Ngāti Pakeha), and spent my working life overseas (England, Finland, France, Germany, Australia), first as an IT consultant then eighteen years as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia. My specialist areas include macroeconomics, financial markets, financial stability, housing markets, household and business finances, crisis management, international relations. I now live on papakainga in Te Rāwhiti, Bay of Islands, grandad’s kainga. I have served on one of our local ahu whenua trusts since 2013, in which capacity I prepared and presented economic loss evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal as part of the wider Ngāpuhi claims. After we moved home in 2019, I created By Māori, a facebook group to tautoko Māori-owned businesses. We now have 43k members and it is the most awesome kaupapa, our people are off-the-charts talented!.

I have been privileged to contribute to Whakatōhea’s Te Roopu Awhina Valuation and Property working group since early 2020, where I hope my economist knowledge has been helpful. It has been challenging doing valuations during Covid as the pandemic creates a huge range of uncertainty, and has certainly up-ended all the conventional economic thinking on where property prices might be heading - big fail! But the valuations work is an important kaupapa and we have really tried to do our best by the whānau. As for me, the overriding principle I took into this roopu is “Land back!”. Time to reclaim the whenua, piece by piece, ko te whenua te oranga o te iwi. 

What are my aspirations for settlement? Well, my personal belief is that sovereignty for Māori - the ability to live our best lives according to our values and tikanga - is not possible without economic sovereignty. I see settlement as helping to build that, not an end in itself but a means to  get where we need to be. I spent a long time working in mainstream and I know its strengths and weaknesses well. When we make decisions around investing that pūtea, I hope they will be through a kaupapa Māori lens. We already have the six pou - we can use these to help provide balance in our thinking and ensure that our decisions are not just financially sound but sound for the people. ESG frameworks are becoming increasingly popular in mainstream and these are not just ethically superior but also actuarially superior - that extra time invested in looking at how organisations perform on Environmental, Social and Governance metrics pays off risk-wise too! 

At the flax roots level, I want to see Whakatōhea move with urgency on housing. I recently saw the amazing work that my cousin Mandy Collier and Te Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust are doing but the need is so huge, especially with whānau flooding in for work and house prices being pushed up by outside forces. I hope that Whakatōhea can be a platform to tautoko and uplift whānau like Mandy. Mauri ora whānau, kei te mihi, kei te mihi.            

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