A new person appointed to the Dunedin City Council leadership group said Maori voices will have a wider influence in shaping the organization’s strategies.

Jeanette Wikaira (50) has been appointed manahautu, or general manager of Maori, partnerships and politics.

The position was created as part of a restructuring affecting senior management. Council chief executive Sandy Graham confirmed the appointment amounted to a promotion of both Ms Wikaira and the nature of her work.

Ms Wikaira had been kaiwhakamaherehere, or senior Maori policy director since last December, a post that has since been abolished.

In addition to promoting an understanding of the organization’s responsibilities under the Treaty of Waitangi, it would focus on integrating the commitment to mana whenua with the council’s aspirations to foster a prosperous city.

“It is a privilege to hold this position and to have the opportunity to work for the Maori community in Otepoti,” Ms. Wikaira said.

“It is an opportunity to shape the way the organization operates in terms of culture and language.”

The council revised its approach to the strategies and Ms Wikaira said she would seek to ensure that they include Maori voices and respond to Maori communities.

Ms. Wikaira is of Ngati Pukenga, Ngati Tamatera and Ngapuhi origin.

She worked with Otago Polytechnic Emeritus Professor Khyla Russell to develop a Maori policy framework there, carried out similar work at the Hocken Collections and the University of Otago, and was a senior research fellow at the Faculty of Law of the ‘university. She is completing a PhD in Maori and Indigenous Studies.

Ms Graham said the DCC would continue to build a strong relationship with mana whenua to integrate this approach across the organization.

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