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Dr Ella Henry outlines key highlights and hopes for 2019

POSTED: 4 February 2019

image of Dr Ella Henry seated at piano
Dr Ella Henry offers up some notes from 2018, and her hopes for the coming year.

Researcher, negotiator, and AUT senior lecturer Dr Ella Henry has earned quite a media profile with her stints on The Panel on RNZ, offering up astute and often acerbic commentary on politics, local and national affairs, and all things Māori — a long way since her days on the panel of “Ask your Auntie” on Māori TV.

The principals at Tuia Innovation have enjoyed their professional and social interactions with Dr Henry over the years, and will be assisting her in developing the strategy for Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa in 2019.

We asked for some reflections on the state of affairs in Aotearoa, and her hopes for the coming year.

Where did you spend Xmas and who with?

I spent some time in Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa rohe (Far North), the rest catching up with whānau in Tāmaki, and one whole week de-cluttering!

What did Santa bring you?

The best present was time with my daughters; they are all busy women career women, so catch-ups, eating good food, watching old movies, playing cards, was great fun!

Read any inspiring books?

One present was The Silence of the Girls by historian Pat Barker, a fabulous retelling of Homer’s poem from the perspective of the women involved in their ‘heroic’ deeds, a feminist perspective of The Iliad, and thumping good read!

Was 2018 a good, bad or indifferent year for you? 

One of my busiest years ever, four national research projects focused on building (in Glen Innes and with Te Puea Marae), Māori leadership, Indigenous business networking, and developing an Indigenous quantitative research methodology, plus being a judge in the national Ockham Book Awards, sitting on the Maori Knowledge PBRF panel, being elected Chair of my Iwi PSGE, supervising PhD and Masters students ... I thought I might slow down when I got my gold card, but, yeah nah!

What is your most effective technique for getting Trump out of your head?

Talking with like-minded souls about how to get Trump out of our heads can be a lot of fun!

What are your hopes/plans/ambitions for the New Year? Are you still doing resolutions or have you outgrown them?

I have outgrown resolutions. If I were going to make them, it would be during Matariki Māori New Year. I just want to keep on working and making a positive contribution to my whānau and Te Āo Māori as long as possible.

Are we going to see much of you in mainstream media?

It is a privilege to be asked to make comment in the media, to give a Māori woman’s perspective on matters on interest, be it radio, television, press. I take that very role seriously, and am fortunate to receive mainly positive feedback.

Are you going to Waitangi? What do you expect might happen there this year?

I am planning to attend this year, I always enjoy the lively debate and chill atmosphere.

What are you hoping the Government might deliver in its wellbeing budget this year? Are they making inroads into the issues around poverty, housing/cost-of-living affordability and a lack of opportunity/hope in some of our communities?

The key for a well-being budget is the quality of the characteristics being measured, and invested in or funded. I am quietly optimistic about this government and its approach, but we are waiting on some substantial gains for our whānau; e.g. housing affordability, mental health strategies, child poverty, Māori Crown relations.

Is there a chance of Ngāpuhi finally getting a deal done? You’ve done a deal, so what advice would you give those yet to “settle”?

Unfortunately I believe the whole process has not been conducive to the special nature of Ngāpuhi, which is unique amongst Iwi and not just because of the size and dispersion of its tribespeople. How many other iwi have more than one waka, Matātua and Ngātokimatawhāorua, or have as many internal, internecine conflicts? So, for such a unique tribe, a unique conflict-resolution and grievance-settlement process might be required, and I am not sure a highly centralised process under one body will work. It was the north that coined the notion of ‘whakaminenga’ — collaboration for mutually beneficial outcomes — so maybe a more collaborative approach is required. 

What’s the best advice your mother gave you and why did (or didn’t) you take it?

My mother taught me to read before I started school, despite having to leave school herself at 14 to go to work in the gumfields. She loved reading, and that was the passion she imbued in me.

What’s the best advice you think you can give your mokopuna in these disruptive times?

I would just like to get some mokopuna! As previously stated, my three daughters are all busy women career women.

What are you hoping will emerge from the work you will be doing with Tuia Innovation in 2019?

I really want to progress the post-settlement strategy for Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa. Our Treaty claim has been beset by internal conflict, and I am seeking strategies to heal those wounds and move forward.

Profile: Dr Ella Henry

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