Pōwhiri to welcome national stewardship land panel to West Coast

The Western South Island national panel working on the reclassification of stewardship land will be welcomed to the rohe of Poutini Ngāi Tahu during a pōwhiri at Arahura Marae today.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is reclassifying stewardship land throughout Aotearoa to better protect conservation areas home to threatened species and high priority ecosystems. DOC will also consider making some land available for economic activity.

A Ngāi Tahu mana whenua panel was appointed in November to work alongside two national panels and share traditional mātauranga Māori of the whenua within its takiwā. The mana whenua panel will provide information on mahinga kai, cultural interests, development opportunities, and its future aspirations for the use of the whenua.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae Chair and Chair of the mana whenua panel, Francois Tumahai says the pōwhiri symbolises the start of the formal partnership between the mana whenua panel and the Western South Island national panel.

“Today’s pōwhiri is an opportunity to bring the national panel, Minister of Conservation Kiritapu Allan, and DOC Director-General Penny Nelson to Te Tai Poutini and connect them to our whenua.”

Under the Ngāi Tahu Settlement Act and Section 4 of the Conservation Act, the Crown must work with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Mana Whenua when making decisions about land within the takiwā of the iwi. The mana whenua panel will be involved throughout the reclassification process to help the national panel develop, review, and finalise the recommendations made to the Minister of Conservation.

Francois Tumahai says mahi is well underway, with the mana whenua panel already reviewing several DOC conservation values reports about the Karamea, Kawatiri and Paparoa landscapes.

“We are sharing Ngāi Tahu values with the two national panels, so they understand our past, as well as our future aspirations to use the land of our tīpuna for economic activity and generate new opportunities for our people and the West Coast community. With our mātauranga, the national panels can make draft recommendations on the reclassification of stewardship land, which will then go to public consultation, before the Minister of Conservation makes a final decision.”

Stewardship land makes up a large part of the Ngāi Tahu takiwā, and there are many traditional sites on the whenua which are interwoven with the history of Ngāi Tahu people and their kōrero.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says this significant kaupapa, which will decide the future of the Te Tai Poutini landscape, comes after many Māori lost their tīpuna connection to traditional sites, including areas of stewardship land.

“This is an exciting time for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. We have a once in a generation opportunity to reverse the decisions of the past and help future generations of our people access the whenua and connect with their tīpuna.

“Kōrero of my Te Tai Poutini whenua has been passed down through the generations, from our tīpuna to our mātua, and now I’m sharing this with my tamariki and moko. Poutini Ngāi Tahu knows every trade that has happened on the coast, every battle, and how our people traditionally used mahinga kai to sustain our hapū and iwi. Our knowledge of this land can only help to strengthen the decision making of the Minister,” says Lisa Tumahai.

Media contact: Marcus Gibbs [email protected]

Background:

  • Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio, Ngāti Māhaki and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae are known together as Poutini Ngāi Tahu.
  • Members of the mana whenua panel include Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio Chair Paul Madgwick, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura Cultural Pou Chair Maurice Manawatu, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae Chair Francois Tumahai, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu representative Gail Thompson.
  • As a kaitiaki of their rohe, each panel member will bring their own mātauranga Māori, and will connect this kaupapa back to their whenua.
  • While around 30% of conservation areas are held in stewardship – over 2.5 million hectares or 9% of New Zealand’s total land area, the mana whenua panel will only work on the reclassification process of stewardship land within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā.
  • The first areas of stewardship land being reclassified are Western South Island and Northern South Island. Maps are available on the DOC website.