Kia ora koutou e te whānau ngā mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa. Firstly let me say a big thank you to my whānau from Auckland, Rachel, Shaun, Merrilyn and partner and Debbie and Chris, thank you for making the effort to come to the first Hui-ā-Iwi, wonderful to see you all, well done Shaun and Chris.

Secondly and most importantly the Hui-ā-Iwi, to the staff, volunteers performers what a show you all put on the aroha, awhi second to none, the mana of Ngāi Tahu was shown at its best. Well done to all the kaimahi, you were the greatest, the well-being of Ngāi Tahu is in good hands.

The kaumātua high tea was one of the highlights, the kaimahi looked after us with pride and humbleness, many, many thanks. The hui in my eyes was a huge success, aroha nui to you all.

As for Waihōpai our kaumātua travelled from Invercargill to the shaky isles without complaining. They went along as best as they could. Some travelled with walkers, walking sticks and other ailments and yet they made the effort, no thanks to the hierachy that wouldn’t fly them. They travelled because they have travelled this road many times, long before the money became the dominant factor. They travelled because of the whakawhanaungatanga and the chance to say hello to their friends of our 18 Papatipu Rūnanga.

A huge thank you to Gwen and Arowhenua, aroha nui whānau we arrived home 8.15pm absolutely tired, but we are up the next day and back into the mahi. Also thanks to He Oranga Pounamu for looking after us so well. You did yourself proud as we all arrived virtually unannounced to awhi our whānau Donna Matahaere as your new CEO.

We have had a number of hui in the last month, I got away to Taupō for the Federation of Māori Authorities hui, an awesome, and stunning hui, away to Te Anau kaitiaki rōpū hui then back to Christchurch, busy, busy, busy.

Mhari Batey had her 70th birthday, what an awesome banquet we had at kai time. Ronnie Bull our chef did well as did all her whānau. She does not look a day over 50 − good Ngāi Tahu genes.

With Christmas coming up invitations are being received and the odd hui, plus, the builders have finally started on the kitchen. Whānau who couldn’t make it the this year’s Hui-ā-Iwi aroha nui, I certainly hope you can make the next one. Those who are unwell we hope you all get well soon.

Waihōpai wishes you all a very, very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hug, laugh, smile, make a new friend, but most importantly whānau, family violence is a no no, back off, go outside. Our families are precious, please be safe over the holiday period and seek help if needed.

Big love to you all whānau, thank you to the awesome Hui-ā-Iwi host rūnaka, so long for the year.

Squirrel on the hill.