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Our history

We are a mana whenua-owned organisation with a long and proud history in the wider Otago region.

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We were established in 1995, originally as an environmental management agency called KTKO (Kāi Tahu ki Otago). KTKO was set up by Otago-based papatipu rūnaka to represent the views and aspirations of kā rūnaka. Our mahi focused on the Resource Management Act 1991 and the requirement for councils to consult with mana whenua for policy statements, planning documents and consents.

Over time, our services expanded beyond natural resource management, and we began supporting rūnaka aspirations in other areas, including health, social services and cultural design.

This led to a rebrand in 2017, when we took on the name Aukaha to better reflect the range of services we now offer. Suggested by Paulette Tamati-Elliffe (mana whenua representative and an authority of te reo Māori), the name Aukaha originates from the phrase kia kaha, aukaha – unite, bind together. Our tīpuna would use this phrase as they strengthened the lashings on waka before setting out on a journey. As one person pushed the line through, they would say “kia kaha”. When the second person grasped the line, and they both pulled together, they would both chant “aukaha.” It is a phrase that encourages people to unite, and to work together to ensure a safe voyage.

Simple and effective, the name Aukaha was then chosen for the organisation by the Board and reflects our role: to strengthen the relationships between mana whenua on one hand and local government and businesses on the other.

We are owned by five papatipu rūnaka:

Our governance board is made up of representatives from each of the rūnaka and one independent director.
We are committed to providing services that improve outcomes for our people and places in this generation and beyond.

Our Stories

Applications Open!

For details about our current open applications to work in our Aukaha kapa, click below for more information and application forms.

Group 1270

Kā mātāpono Our Values


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