Cultural Advocate – Meet Eraia Kiel

(Te Arawa, Kahungungu, Waikato)

Married to Tania. Father of Lahaina, Eraia and Te Oha.

Eraia is a dedicated family man, with a strong sense of responsibility to his tūpuna, who he says paved the way for Rotorua.

“I love their foresight and how they embraced Pākehā and new ways in order to create the right future for their descendants. I really admire their foresight in gifting the town and having a strong relationship with the council, realising our people would benefit.

“It was good to finally be acknowledged and sit alongside Council – as we agreed to way back then. I strongly believe in partnerships. We can’t achieve anything if we’re not working together.”
Having that voice in Council and being able to inspire his people in a political world was also motivation for Eraia to become a Te Tatau board member.

“The future looks bright for Te Arawa. I’m proud of the fact that we’re a bit of a shining beacon for the rest of the motu. Te Arawa has always been a trailblazer. We’re not scared to try things while holding strong to our cultural values. We can easily walk in both worlds.”

Eraia’s interests include spending time with his whānau, supporting the marae, travelling, and teaching the traditions of Māori arts, in particular taiaha. As a 9-year-old, his mother sent him to Mokoia Island with Koro Mita Mohi. Thirty-years later, he’s still involved in the summer wānanga.

“That wānanga has been a breeding ground for a lot of our leaders – not just Te Arawa, but throughout the motu.”

It was through that grounding, that Eraia went on to become a facilitator in team building and motivational work in prisons and businesses. For a significant part of the past 16 years he has brought people together to achieve a common goal – focus on the future and not dwell on the past.

“Growing leadership through my culture is another one of my passions. Instilling those core values – discipline, self-pride and self-respect in our rangatahi so they believe in themselves.”