Significant landmark for one of country’s biggest national parks

A large pou whenua has been unveiled in Kahurangi National Park at a blessing ceremony today.

Pou whenua, or land posts, are used to mark territorial boundaries and areas of significance to tangata whenua.

The blessing was attended by approximately 50 people, including Minister of Conservation and Land Information Hon Eugenie Sage, and representatives of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae, the Department of Conservation (DOC), regional and district councils and local conservation boards.

The pou was installed by DOC earlier this week and was blessed with a karakia and waiata at the official unveiling ceremony today.

The blessing was followed by speeches from tangata whenua and the Minister, who announced the review of the Kahurangi National Park Management Plan. The review follows the addition of 64,400 hectares of land to Kahurangi from the Mokihinui River catchment area in March 2019.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says the addition is significant to the iwi, and especially to her rūnanga of Ngāti Waewae.

“Pou whenua have always been important to our people. They establish a footprint and provide a tangible sense of Ngāi Tahu mana in our takiwā. Ngāi Tahu are the kaitiaki or guardians of this land; we must ensure it is protected for us, and our children after us. This pou is a physical reminder of that responsibility.”

The pou is the first of several that will be installed in the Ngāti Waewae takiwā.

“Ngāi Tahu is commencing a new strategic phase to take us through to 2050. A key part of that strategy is Haea Te Awa, a new vision and direction, which places regional rangatiratanga at its heart. Part of this is a takiwā wide pou whenua initiative. So you’ll see more of these on the Ngāi Tahu whenua, this is the first of many to come.”

Ngāti Waewae Chair Francois Tumahai says the review of the Kahurangi National Park Plan is welcomed.

“The review is a necessary step in addressing our cultural rights and interests and acknowledges the addition of land to Kahurangi National Park. The pou itself represents recognition that partnership is the way forward in terms of our relationship with The Crown and the ongoing work we’re doing together.”

Carver Mahana Coulston, who has been carving for seventeen years, says he feels lucky to be have worked on this pou. He explains its significance.

“The pou represents the only iwi in the region of Mōkihinui, being Ngāti Waewae. It speaks of the whenua from our rangatira Tarapuhi to his cousin Mata Nohi Nohi, who was Ngāi Tahu.”