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  • Phoebe Robertson

Māori & Pacifika News

PHOEBE ROBERTSON (she/her)


Oscar ‘TV Legend’ Kightley considers Auckland mayoral run


Theater majors know him as the author of Dawn Raids, film majors know him as Tavita from Next Goal Wins, or Andy in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Now, he’s considering a mayoral run. Oscar Kightley is currently serving his first term on the Henderson-Massey Local Board. He has also previously worked as a reporter at The Auckland Star.


When asked about his potential bid for mayor, Kightley expresses his long-standing interest in improving the overall well-being of Auckland residents. He has already dabbled in local politics by serving on the local board and was recently approached about considering a mayoral campaign. However, he explains to me, “It’s such a huge undertaking… especially in today's climate, you see what everybody who puts themselves in higher office tends to go through now, what they’re exposed to compared to perhaps pre-Covid times, there’s a lot of things I’ve got to think about.’ 


Kightley also recognizes the low voter turnout and believes there is a disconnect between elected officials and the local community. To bridge this gap, he believes it is important to have representatives from all walks of life, not just those with corporate or wealth backgrounds. 


Despite having many roles over the years—councilor, actor, playwright—Kightley never felt confined to one label. He does acknowledge that his TV personality may pose a “challenge” in a mayoral race, but at the same time, he believes it is beneficial to have diverse perspectives in local politics. After all, his three decades in the arts have taught him how to understand people from all walks of life.




Scientists partner with iwi to combat bird flu pandemic 


Scientists and iwi Māori are joining forces to combat the threat of a bird flu pandemic in Aotearoa. Te Niwha, led by Ngati Hauā director Te Pora Thompson, aims to increase Aotearoa's preparedness for future pandemics through iwi partnerships and projects. One such project focuses on developing a portable tool for detecting bird flu and other viruses using environmental DNA. This collaboration also aims to promote mutual understanding between traditional knowledge and scientific methods, while investigating the role of wild aquatic birds in virus transmission. Priority will be given to areas with diverse bird populations, including taonga species like hoiho.




Tūrangawaewae regatta held


On Saturday, March 16th, the Tūrangawaewae Regatta took place. This event is held at Tūrangawaewae Marae, the central hub of the Māori King movement (known as the Kīngitanga) and the official residence and reception center for Māori King Tūheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero VII. The Tūrangawaewae Regatta holds the title of second oldest regatta in Aotearoa. It was established by the Ngāruawāhia community in 1894, with the goal of preserving traditional Maori river activities and customs through aquatic sports. Today, this event draws large crowds of both spectators and participants to the marae every year. Over 600 paddlers were expected to participate in this year's regatta.




Polyfest hits Auckland 


From the 20th to 23rd of March, ASB Polyfest took place in Auckland, an annual event that highlights the country's unique cultural heritage through vibrant performances of song, dance, and traditional attire. Students from various backgrounds compete on six stages featuring cultures such as Cook Islands, Māori, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and a Diversity stage with Fijian, Tokelauan, Chinese, Korean, and Indian performances. The festival begins with a sunrise flag-raising ceremony led by Tainui kaumātua and representatives from each stage's host schools. This is followed by a pōwhiri, speeches, and the commencement of performances. 





Te Arawa Kapa Haka Regional Competition


The Te Arawa Kapa Haka Regional Competition was held from the 8th to 9th of March. 24 groups performed, the most in any region of the competition. The top six will go on to perform at Te Matatini in 2025—a festival and competition for kapa haka performers from across Aotearoa, celebrating Māori performing arts and culture on a national level. The top six in order of overall placings are; Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, Te Piki Kōtuku o Ngāti Rongomai, Te Hekenga-ā-Rangi, Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Te Hikuwai. 




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