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Friday, 6 November 2015, Whanganui

Tamahaki council calls for unity

WORKING TO PROTECT TAMAHAKI INTERESTS: From left, Robert (Boy) Cribb, Don Robinson and Paora (Baldy) Haitana.

WORKING TO PROTECT TAMAHAKI INTERESTS: From left, Robert (Boy) Cribb, Don Robinson and Paora (Baldy) Haitana.

Work to protect and uplift the interests of Tamahaki families has not let up since the occupation of Tieke kāinga in the Whanganui National Park began in 1993, says Tamahaki Kaunihera o Ngā Hapū.

Chairman Paora (Baldy) Haitana said the work required to progress the hopes and aspirations of the hapū (sub-tribes) of Tamahaki on the middle reaches of the Whanganui river has been intensive and demanding but steady progress was being made.

“The work is ongoing and has not ceased since Te Whānau o Tieke made its stand,” Mr Haitana said. “A handful of whānau have worked tirelessly with the support of the people from Day 1. As a result, the people of the middle reaches are moving steadily toward achieving the dreams of our kuia and koroua who have gone before us.”

Mr Haitana said the Tamahaki Kaunihera was established as an independent council of hapū to uplift the voice of the people, which had not been heard for many years.

“While some Tamahaki groups became dormant, others continued the fight to have our interests recognised, and did this on behalf of and with the blessing of the people. Our position as Tamahaki Kaunihera (a council of Tamahaki hapū) is quite clear – a mandate was given to us at a series of hui-a-hapū held at Pipiriki, Whanganui, Masterton and Raetihi last year, and we have not been idle.

“To date we have reconstructed the pou at Tieke Marae, painted the tūpuna whare, built the shelter over the pou to protect it from all weather, and built the waharoa to Tieke Marae. We have engaged with the Director General of the Department of Conservation at Tieke Marae, and discussed establishing a co-governance model for the Whanganui National Park. This weekend (November 7/8) a group from Ngāti Kaponga ki Mangapāpapa Marae will jetboat up to wānanga there to identify sites and infrastructure necessary to support our long-term ahi kaa (right of occupation).”

Mr Haitana said Tamahaki has been working for many years in iwi, agency and local authority areas that require iwi input. “Over the years, solid relationships have been built throughout the rohe, not only with government, agencies and local authorities but also with our whanaunga (relations) up and down the river and in the wider district.

“The hard yards have been done, and our people know who have done them.”

Mr Haitana said that finally the wider rohe had the movers and shakers to help the people realise their goals, not only for treaty claims settlement but for strengthening whānau, hapū, iwi and the entire central area through building positive relationships.

“The important thing is to move forward together, constructively,” he said.

Wai Claimant Don Robinson said that as the Chair of the Whanganui Whare Wānanga Trust he supports the need for discussions around the future of the Whanganui National Park, with the ultimate aim of establishing a Māori national park managed by tangata whenua.

He said the Trust was formed around the goal in the 1980s to establish a whare wānanga (house of higher learning) in the vacated Waikune prison complex, and to set up satellite training sites on lands provided by the owners/trustees of iwi land, much of it within the Whanganui National Park.

“The purpose was to facilitate cultural revitalisation for the people of the middle reaches of the Whanganui river. Satellite sites would have included such places as Parewaewae, Tieke, Taumatamahoe, Arawhata, Kirikiriroa and others,” Mr Robinson said.

Mr Robinson is the only surviving claimant for Wai 48 (renamed Wai 221), which was the vehicle used to take to the Crown grievances around the sale and purchase of the Waimarino, Whakaihuwaka, Taumatamahoe and other blocks. Mr Robinson is also a trustee of Uenuku Charitable Trust, whose mandate to negotiate the comprehensive settlement of all Treaty of Waitangi claims within the Central Whanganui area was approved by the iwi this year.

Wai 555 claimant Robert (Boy) Cribb – who is also a trustee for Uenuku Charitable Trust – said he has been involved with work to protect Tamahaki interests since being passed the mantle following the death of his father Mark Cribb.

“My focus over 20 years has been to carry on the work of my father, whānau and hapū,” Mr Cribb said. “After the hearings for Wai 555 finished in 2008, people went to sleep and left a skeleton crew to carry the banner, to protect the mana and ensure the voices of the hapū of the middle reaches are heard.

“This takes time, energy, resilience and a thick skin – and there’s no room for dreamers. We have some big tasks ahead of us, and we want to build infrastructure for the future before settlement occurs. We want our hapū to be in a position of strength to move forward to achieve their visions once treaty claims are settled.

“This requires us to work together with our Uenuku whanaunga to support our Large Natural Grouping to achieve a Deed of Mandate and to negotiate the settlement of treaty claims.”

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