The Māori Reference Group (MRG) was originally established to advise the Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families. In 2008 they developed and published the first E Tū Whānau Programme of Action following extensive kōrero within Te Ao Māori. The MRG now provides strategic advice to the E Tū Whānau initiative as well as having input into government policy that affects whānau, particuarly where there is violence.
Te Arawa, Tuhourangi
Roku Mihinui is the current Chair of the MRG. He is an Independent Contractor, including to the Te Arawa Lakes Trust, the post settlement entity established to manage the 14 lakes returned to Te Arawa under the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Act 2006, for the betterment of the iwi, hapū and whānau. This involves the provision of environmental, health, cultural, education and social services. He was part of the successful negotiation team for this treaty claim and held the position of CEO for a number of years.
He also led the successful negotiations to return control of the Whakarewarewa village tourism business to his Tuhourangi Ngāti Wahiao people.
Roku has held senior management positions in the forestry, tourism, justice and education sectors and in social services organisations in the community, public and private sectors. As a social worker, he specialised in child protection and youth justice and helped write and deliver the Bachelor of Applied Social Science Kaupapa Māori Degree at Waiariki Polytechnic.
Roku is the son of the famous “Guide Bubbles”, proactively supports his children and mokopuna in their various interests and is known for his whānau centric approach within the workplace.
Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki, Ngāti Taoka, Te Atawhiua
Donna Matahaere-Atariki chairs the Otakou Rūnanga and the Ministry of Health NGO Council. She is also a member of the University of Ōtagō Council, Trustee of Well South Primary Health Network (PHO), Alternate for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and a Gambling Commissioner. Currently Donna is a Consultant GM Māori for Investing in Children, Oranga Tamariki and a Whānau Ora coach for Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu Whānau Ora Commission.
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is an elected member of the Rotorua District Council, Lakes District Health Board and a Trustee of her hapū, Ngāti Rangitihi Post Settlement Entity. She has been actively involved with the establishment of Whānau Ora as the Deputy Chair of the Te Arawa Whānau Ora Regional Leadership Group and was appointed in 2013 to the Whānau Ora Governance Group.
Merepeka has an MBA in International Management and has worked in the public, private and NGO sectors. Merepeka has been involved in community and Māori economic development for the past 20 years. She has been trustee/director of a number of Māori trusts and incorporations. She is known for her strong and outspoken stance against violence in the home believing that women and children have the right to live free from violence. Merepeka lives in her tribal area of Rotorua.
Ruahine (Roni) Albert
Tuwharetoa, Waikato Maniapoto, Raukawa,Tainui
Ruahine (Roni) Albert is CEO of Waikato Womens Refuge, Te Whakaruruhau. She is one of a group of Maori women who helped to set up the first Maori Womens Safehouse in 1986, which still operates today.
A unique relationship was created in 2006 with the men from Te Ao Marama Unit at Waikeria Prison, and has continued to be one of the Refuge’s most valued relationships. A selection of men from the unit were made available to support all the maintenance work for the families being assisted by Te Whakaruruhau. Their contribution included repairs and maintenance of homes damaged by violence, support in building two and refurbishing one safehouse, and helping the refuge to distribute furniture and donations to families in need.
Te Whakaruruhau support men as they are released from prison, and their families, to reintegrate back into the community. They provide referral assistance with drug and alcohol programmes, securing employment, parenting, and advocacy. They also provide accommodation for up to three years.
Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri
Katie Murray is the Kai Arahi of Waitomo Papakainga, a whānau-based and focused kaupapa Māori based social service agency in Kaitaia. Waitomo supports a wide range of programmes and activities including an Alternative Education class for students from the local high school; a second-hand shop providing affordable alternatives for whanau, and ‘Super Māori Fellas’, a group of tane who have taken a very public stand against violence.
Katie is actively involved in her community of Te Hiku o Te Ika and has a degree in social work. She is Deputy Chair of Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa as well as being the Chair of Te Hiku Social Accord.
Katie is a straight talking, passionate and visionary Māori woman committed to the restoration of tino rangātiratanga for whānau, hapū and iwi.
Update 2018: Sir Mark Solomon, Toa Faneva and Richard Steadman have recently joined the Māori Reference Group. Their background information will be added shortly.