January 25, 2022
PR: West Coast pōwhiri for national stewardship land panel
A Ngāi Tahu mana whenua panel will lead a pōwhiri at Arahura Marae today to welcome a national panel working on the reclassification of stewardship land within the rohe of Poutini Ngāi Tahu.
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.
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 our takiwā.
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 our takiwā.
The mana whenua panel will also provide information on mahinga kai, cultural interests, development opportunities, and its future aspirations for the use of the whenua. It will help the national panel develop, review, and finalise the recommendations made to the Minister of Conservation.
The chair of the mana whenua panel is Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae chair Francois Tumahai. Other members of the panel include Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio chair Paul Madgwick, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura cultural pou chair Maurice Manawatu and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu representative Gail Thompson.
Today’s pōwhiri symbolises the start of the formal partnership between the mana whenua panel and the Western South Island national panel. The pōwhiri is also an opportunity to bring the national panel, Minister of Conservation and the DOC Director-General to Te Tai Poutini and connect them to the whenua.
The mana whenua panel is sharing Ngāi Tahu values with the two national panels so they understand our past, as well as our future aspirations, to use the land 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 Conservation Minister 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.
Our knowledge of this land can only help to strengthen the decision-making of the Minister. Mahi is already well underway with the mana whenua panel already reviewing several DOC conservation values reports about the Karamea, Kawatiri and Paparoa landscapes.
This is an exciting time for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and this significant kaupapa will decide the future of the Te Tai Poutini landscape. We now 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.