‘Welcome to Country’ to start Melbourne Toitū Te Tiriti hīkoi supported by First Nation’s mana whenua


A Toitū Te Tiriti silent hīkoi is set to get underway in Melbourne on Saturday afternoon as concern is expressed across the Tasman about Aotearoa’s new coalition government’s policies impacting Māori.

A spokesperson for the hīkoi, Jeremy Nikora (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Kaputuhi, Ngāti Huiao, Te Aitanga a Mate, Ngāti Uepohatu), says the march from Waterfront Place, Port Melbourne to St Kilda Beach from 12.30 to 1.30pm (local time) has the support of mana whenua.

“The hikoi is starting with a Welcome to Country and they are doing a smoking ceremony for us before we go. I’ll be doing the return mihi to them,” says Nikora.

“There will be a few elders and leaders from their community coming to tautoko us.”

Nikora who is an Aboriginal Liaison Officer for the Victorian Electoral Commission says he has many connections with the First Nations of the land due to his mahi, however, he wants to ensure they too are fully recognised.

“We’ll also be doing an item for them at the end of the march to mihi as a whole community back to them for blessing us to reach our tikanga and reo on their land,” he says.

Te Ao News understands Mark Brown from the Bunurong Land Council will conduct the Traditional Welcome to Country and Smoke Cleansing Ceremony.

'A proud day'.

Bunurong elder Mark Brown says it is a ‘proud moment’ supporting Māori at the Melbourne Toitū Te Tiriti hīkoi. Video / Supplied

In a post earlier in the week Nikora had said he and the organisers had met with John Tamihere, Te Paati Māori President through Zoom and he shared how the Toitū Te Tiriti (Honour the Treaty) movement in Aotearoa began, from the community.

He referred to a quote by Tamihere which read, “The thing about racism and colonisation is that it keeps indigenous people distracted and fighting between ourselves. Fighting over the crumbs they give out to keep us separated and dis-unified…”

In Nikora’s post he then posted “This isn’t an isolated fight solely in NZ, it’s all connected and is the same fight happening here on these First Nations lands, same fight happening all over for indigenous peoples rights. We have to put issues aside, be brave and stand together.”

It’s expected hundreds will turn up to march in Naarm the traditional Aboriginal name for Melbourne.

Mark Brown, Bunurong elder and Senior Culture Heritage Officer at Bunurong Land Council, explains the smoking ceremony before today’s hīkoi. Video / Supplied