Group shot with Tourism Minister Hon Peeni Henare at Raetihi Marae. (April 12, 2023)

Exciting Plans for Pōkākā Ecosanctuary 

Last week we hosted a lunch at Raetihi Marae attended by Tourism Minister Hon Peeni Henare, who sought to learn about some exciting new projects, including our Pōkākā Ecosanctuary, which will enhance our region as a tourist destination and provide career pathways for our rangatahi.

Chairman Aiden Gilbert delivered to the Hon Peeni Henare about Pōkākā and its hopes and aspirations, following which they visited the Ecosanctuary site. Mr Gilbert was able to speak with the Minister about our planned Cultural Event Centre which will house the stories of our past and highlight our journey to the present. 

“This Centre is a way to connect us with the wider community,” he said.

Mr Gilbert was pleased that soon the Crown would return Pōkākā related redress to Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki, pending the Ratification of our Deed of Settlement. 

The Deed of Settlement recognises the significance of the area known as Pōkākā within the Ngatokoerua (Erua) Conservation block used by our Tūpuna to connect and gather kai long ago by Te Korowai o Wainuiārua tupuna because of the sheer abundance of kaka and other bird life that once were in abundance there.  Pōkākā-related redress to support our vision will include a joint strategic advisory committee, co-management agreement, Pōkākā ecosanctuary vision statement, a chapter in the Tongariro-Taupo Conservation Management Strategy, land and Cultural Revitalisation Funds.

“Pōkākā will be the site of our cultural and ecotourism attraction, the first predator-proof, iwi-led ecosanctuary in New Zealand, incorporating a visitor centre and café and offering wildlife tours and guided cultural walks. It will also be a centre of excellence for mātauranga Māori inspired education. As an adjunct to Pōkākā, a nursery will be established to provide native plantings for the ecosanctuary and surrounding lands in the wider area.”

“When the land is returned, it will not be in the condition it was when ceded. The Ecosanctuary will work to restore the land to its previous condition through protection, pest management and the reintroduction of native flora and fauna,” he said.

“Pōkākā will provide sustainable employment and training opportunities, particularly for our rangatahi.”

Minister Henare was excited to see how our Ecosanctuary could provide career pathways for young Māori.

The Minister’s visit to Raetihi Marae was timely, soon after launching a new district-wide Destination Management Plan on March 27.

For further information, you can contact Steve Hirini via email, or via phone 021 651 958.


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