Regional | Ngāi Tahu

Justin Tipa takes on ‘huge honour’ in taking over as Ngāi Tahu chair

The newly elected kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Justin Tipa, is taking his new job “one step at a time”.

Last week, he was elected to the role after Lisa Tumahai confirmed her departure after seven years as chair of the rūnanga. Tipa had represented Te Rūnanga o Moeraki for the past two years.

Speaking to, Tipa says that, although he’s absorbing the job as much as he can, he is humbled and ready for the mahi ahead.

“I feel I bring a number of different perspectives that will put me in good steed to be successful in this role.”

Reflecting on the mahi his people have done since they signed their Treaty settlement many years ago, Tipa is beyond proud of how far they’ve come and how much further they can go.

“Our whole identity is hinged on mahinga kai, our ability to work the environment and harvest our traditional kai and resources. A lot has changed over the last 25 years post-settlement, we’ve now got a generation of [Ngāi] Tahu growing up with te reo Māori as their first language, grounded in their whakapapa and tikanga,” he says.

Resetting the vision to 2050

“I’m a strong believer that when our pā, marae, rūnanga and rural communities are thriving, our iwi will be thriving. It makes it a lot easier for a large proportion of our iwi that live outside our takiwā (district), even those outside that country - when we’re in a strong position it makes it a lot easier for them to re-enage with their whakapapa.”

The outgoing Tumahai previously said the next person in her shoes had to take the iwi “into the next decade”.

With Tipa in those shoes, he’s looking much further than that.

“We’re coming together to reset our vision out to 2050 and beyond, and that’s underpinned by getting out and hearing from our whānau voice.

“I think being led by our whānau and hapū will steer us in the right direction.”

No matter what lies ahead with the new government, Tipa is focused on advancing “the dreams and aspirations” of Ngāi Tahu.

“I share concerns with the rest of Māoridom but we just need to take a breath, pause and really assess what’s coming down the pipeline and understand how we need to react and approach things.”

Public Interest Journalism