July 25, 2019, 3:03 p.m.
Unity, relationships and education have been resonating statements from local iwi Te Rarawa Kaiwhare as the iwi mobilised their resources in response to the two carved pou whenua being vandalised that informed visitors of the rahui on shellfish collection in the area.
Since the cutting down of the pou, Te Rarawa iwi have been overwhelmed with support coming from right across the country and from a diverse range of communities outside of Ahipara.
Local kaumātua John Paitai who has maintained a presence at the road blockade at Te Kohanga said that while it’s a disappointing and disrespectful act, there’s a lot of beauty that has risen from the felling of the pou.
“We’ve had support from wide and far, both Māori and non-Māori from as far away as Christchurch. There are many people being educated about our role as kaitiaki and it really is sinking in and that’s heartening because we’re not just here for the sake of being here - we are mana whenua and we must ensure our natural resources are looked after for our generations to come,” said Paitai.
“Ngāti Kurī, Te Aupōuri, Ngāi Takoto and Ngāti Kahu have been great pillars of strength for us sending in gate keepers, kai and even a caravan. It’s all much appreciated” he added.
Te Oneroa-ā-Tōhē, commonly known as 90 Mile Beach stretches along the west coast of Te Hiku o te Ika, and Te Aupōuri kaumātua Hone Witana said he’d like to see more pou established.
“I ultimately want to see pou whenua along the entire length of Te Oneroa-ā-Tōhē one day. We are guardians, we must protect this taonga,” said Witana.
Te Rarawa iwi said investigations are continuing to identify a culprit and the carved pou whenua will be back standing in due time.