A rāhui tapu (customary prohibition) has been placed on Ohakune Mountain Road on Mount Ruapehu until sunset on Tuesday 31 July following a fatal bus accident on Saturday 28 July.
The rāhui has been applied on a section of Ohakune Mountain Road around the 9-kilometre mark where a ski shuttle bus descending from Tūroa skifield overturned halfway down the mountain. A child died as a result of the accident.
Ruapehu iwi have been working to support whānau, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), the Department of Conservation and authorities. A karakia ceremony was carried out on Sunday, and Uenuku iwi placed the area around the accident site under temporary restriction in accordance with tikanga Māori (customary practice).
The purpose of the rāhui is both physical and spiritual protection following the loss of life. A rāhui is a customary spiritual and environmental restriction that temporarily limits access to the site of a fatal accident as an acknowledgement of death, to support safety measures, and to provide time for the tapu (sacredness) associated with death to dissipate, allowing for healing and recovery of the natural elements and people, particularly grieving whānau (family).
It is expected that the Department of Conservation and RAL will work with iwi to ensure that the rāhui is respected.