Coming up with a new name for this commission was a walkover? Not when it is developing a Treaty partnership

The news from an outfit called the Walking Outdoor Access Commission was startlingly summed up in four words in a press statement headline:  We’re changing our name.

The fundamental change should have be no more than the removal of the  word “walking”,  because (as the press statement tells us):

“Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller.”

And so, the new name will  be the Outdoor Access Commission?

Don’t be silly.

“Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, formerly the Walking Access Commission (from 28 July 2022).”   

Does that mean “Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa” is te reo for “Walking Access Commission”?

Again, don’t be silly.

“Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.   

“Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa – connecting people, connecting places.”

The press statement provides some (but not much) background:

“In 2019 a government review of the Walking Access Act 2008 recommended the Commission change its name to better reflect its activities and its relationships with Māori.”

This would be an Ardern government review, we may suppose.

It should be noted that the emphasis was to go on the commission’s relationship with Māori, not its relationship with the public or with New Zealanders.


“The Iwi Chairs Forum supported cultural advisors Tūtira Mai to develop a new name for the Commission.” 

How, when and why the Iwi Chairs Forum was brought into the decision-making process is not clear.

But we do know that Tūtira Mai is not a charity and thinking up a new name for the Walking Access Commission would be challenging when “walking” is omitted.

The company’s website tells us it conducts cultural reviews, guides strategy development and implementation, and develops confidence in organisations “during their journey to becoming culturally capable.”

The company explains its own name in an impenetrable mix of English and te reo, typical of the  modern-day way of communicating with New Zealanders:

Tūtira Mai was born from the words of the waiata, ‘Tūtira Mai,’ composed by Canon Wi Te Tau Huata of Ngāti Kahungunu.

“We are guided by the words “whaia te māramatanga” and “me te aroha.”

We are a tira (team/group) of 10; six of whom provide the cultural capacity and the remainder are the hāpai ō (support).

Our manutāiko (cultural advisors) all sit on paepae in our respective areas as kaikōrero/kaikaranga, are former secondary school and university lecturers and are deep into marae life and iwi kaupapa, as well as being experienced facilitators.

We also bring big picture senior management expertise to our mahi as former or current, umuaki, chairpersons, board members, CEO and iwi leaders.

Our teaching / learning / experience comes not out of a textbook but straight off the marae. We are a tira (group) set on the goal of whakatira (bringing people together). To do this we provide cultural advice and guidance to organisations who are wanting to include te ao Māori in their workplace practices.

Through education / training and ensuring that Māori are always included at the decision-making table ( aroha ), we whakatira Māori and Pākehā. By doing so, the vision of the Tiriti ( Treaty of Waitangi ) as our tūpuna expected, is upheld.

One part of the business is to help with communications and branding:

Do you need help with naming or developing culturally responsive communications? We help you to generate trust and connection with your brand through powerful storytelling. We can assist in embedding Te Ao Māori worldviews that will inspire and embrace staff and clients alike.

Please send us your details below so we can help you to plan for your kaupapa (purpose/topic/occasion).

Kia whakapā mai || Contact a Consultant.

On the commission’s website, the name has yet to be changed and the English-language component  comes first:

“The New Zealand Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa provides leadership on outdoor access issues and administers a national strategy on outdoor access, including tracks and trails. It maps outdoor access, provides information to the public, oversees a code of responsible conduct, helps to resolve disputes and negotiates new access.

“The Commission has a small team in Wellington and a network of regional field advisors. It is governed by an independent board.”

In the most recent annual report, for 2020/21, chairman Don Cameron says:

“This is the first full year I have had the privilege of signing as Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa New Zealand.”

He further says:

“The Board has invested significant energy in the last two years developing a Māori Partnership Strategy that ensures the Commission meets its Tiriti obligations. This has changed our mahi in all areas and changed the way we reach out to and work alongside tangata whenua.”

 And CEO Ric Cullinane says:

“Our Māori Partnership Strategy proudly puts steps in place to focus on our allyship with Māori. Our staff at the Commission are also crafting individual Māori implementation strategies and I’ve enjoyed learning new waiata before our weekly hui. In the next 12 months, we’ll look at incorporating more waiata and more kupu into the Commission. We also look forward to welcoming our Strategic Relationships Manager to the team to further continue this journey.”

The annual report says total revenue for the year was $3,573,678 and total expenditure was $3,222,319.

The largest single item of under expenditure against budget was for Māori engagement which was underspent at year-end by $185,117.

“Work on Māori engagement during the year was very much foundation work with a significant amount of staff, board and regional field advisor time applied to the creation of the Commission’s first Māori Partnership Strategy and a detailed implementation plan and timeline. Embedding the commitment to te Tiriti and actively lifting the Commission’s leadership capacity and cultural capability resulted in several training initiatives and personal development plans during the year but most of the cost of this was staff time already included in personnel costs.”

The Commission has eight board members, three of them of Māori descent with experience in Māori Crown issues.

The press statement which tells us about the new name concludes:

“A trail gets us from A to B, but between those points is the journey. This name change is one step in the Commission’s journey, with many more to come.”

Many more name changes?

Surely not.