The tide of the economy, the tide that binds us - Re-awakening of the Treasury's wharenui

Speech delivered by Gabriel Makhlouf, Secretary to the Treasury, 11 March 2019.

Good morning and thank you for being a part of this special occasion, the re-awakening of our wharenui Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne.

Today’s re-awakening is a significant moment as the Treasury starts a new life in a new location. And we know that all life needs a strong beating heart to thrive. Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne is the strong beating heart of the Treasury.

The very meaning of the name Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne is forward-looking. In English it is the grandchildren of Tāne, signifying the next generation. And just as our wharenui connects us to the generations to come, it also connects us to generations past. The New Zealand Treasury’s origin dates back at least as far as the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Within Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne are carvings that represent history and heritage stretching from the dawn of the twentieth century to the dawn of creation. They depict important historical figures both Māori and Pakeha, along with gods, mythical scenes and important Māori motifs. They have meaning for this house, this place, this country and its people.

The intergenerational dimension of Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne is in close harmony with the Treasury’s focus on intergenerational wellbeing. As the wharenui links us to our beginnings and history so too does the knowledge drawn from Te Ao Māori and the exemplar of this fine Whare Taonga. It guides our behaviour and holds us accountable for its care. Its protocols, kawa, ritual and ceremony enrich the Treasury and our guests. It provides knowledge that can help steer our teams, our culture and our insights that link us to our future. And it reinforces the fundamental values of Manaakitanga – Care and Responsibility, Kaitiakitanga – Stewardship and Guardianship, and Whanaungatanga – Relationships and Connections. These values underpin our Living Standards Framework and are in close harmony with our focus on intergenerational wellbeing.

The Treasury’s connection with Tāne has many other levels in addition to the name of our wharenui. As you know, Tāne is a figure of great importance in Te Ao Māori. Tāne separated earth and sky, allowing light and knowledge to shine into the world, and brought this world into being. He fashioned the first human. He adorned the heavens, and brought the baskets of knowledge, wisdom and understanding down from the sky to human beings. The many names of Tāne reflect his different roles. He is called Tane-te-waiora: he represents life, prosperity, welfare, sunlight. Tane-mahuta: he is the parent. Tane-nui-a-Rangi: Great Tane, offspring of Rangi. His various names suggest growth, maturity, greatness. Someone who provides support and shelter for others, who is loyal and bold, and a descendant from Papa and Rangi. These are qualities and characteristics the Treasury holds in high esteem.

Just as Tāne rises from the whenua to the firmament, the pou of this wharenui connects all levels of the Treasury. We have adorned our workplace with the colours of the earth, the land and sea, the sky and the heavens to reflect Tāne’s reach through the levels of the natural world and his support for our enterprise. And from Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne we have taken inspiration from its tukutuku panels and extended some of the designs throughout our work environment.

I have spoken of new beginnings, and today I would like to celebrate another new beginning for the Treasury. We have held the name Kaitohutohu Kaupapa Rawa since 1988. As we draw more deeply on te Ao Māori in our own development as an organisation and in our public sector leadership role, we have sought a new reo Māori name to better represent externally all that we are and do.

Our focus on intergenerational wellbeing and the Māori-Crown relationship provide the basis for the name we have selected, in consultation with the Māori Language Commission, our Mana Whenua and Māori networks, key leaders and many of our own people.

The name is Te Tai Ōhanga.

Ōhanga is a word for the economy and financial matters, including connections for wellbeing and prosperity. It captures the core of our role and work.

Te Tai is the term for tide and tidal matters, and denotes a space and a domain. It infers a connection and a guardianship with others, and so reflects the nature of economic and financial matters, which ebb and flow and yet are constant and core to our stewardship and leadership role.

Te Tai Ōhanga is a name we hold with pride and responsibility. It is firmly anchored at the central position of the Treasury’s location and role in Wellington: leading the way to wellbeing via the four Living Standards Framework capitals, and pivotal in the four tides and direction for Aotearoa.

In a very tangible way, the wharenui symbolises our shared obligation under the Treaty as agents of the Māori-Crown relationship and our responsibilities for kaitiakitanga or system stewardship. Its symbolic aspects are important. But first and foremost, Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne is centred on people.

This is a place for people to use. For almost three decades now, people have come to the wharenui to work, to debate, to speak freely, to collaborate, to share knowledge, to think, to relax, to have a moment of quiet. You enter Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne and you know you are in a special place. It holds great meaning for the people who helped bring it into being – some of whom are here today – and for all who have cared for it since. I understand that those who have done such a wonderful job of relocating Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne also know they were working on something truly unique. And like my predecessors as Secretary to the Treasury, I will always carry the significance of Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne wherever I go.

As my time in the role enters its final months, I am mindful of perhaps the wharenui’s most important function of all: welcoming people into the Treasury. For our staff their welcome pōwhiri is their own new beginning. It gives each person the knowledge that they belong here, that they are connected to the Treasury whanau of the past, present and future. And this is the place where we can stand together and welcome visitors with the recognition of mana and the expression of aroha. We do so today. With its re-awakening, Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne is once again bringing all into the heart of the Treasury.