Ngāi Tahu reject other iwi involvement in district plan

6:41 pm on 24 February 2021

Mayors and chairs working on a new district plan for the West Coast have rejected a suggestion that councils should deal with iwi other than Poutini Ngāi Tahu, over historic sites and wahi tapu.

steep coast in the mountains at milford sound, fjordland national park, southland, new zealand

"Tino rangatiratanga rests with Poutini Ngāi Tahu, from Kahurangi Point right down to Piopiotahi, Milford Sound," iwi representative Paul Madgwick says. Photo:

Planners presented draft policies for Māori use zones and sites of significance to the monthly meeting of the Tai o Poutini Plan Committee in Hokitika yesterday.

The importance of those sections of the plan should not be underestimated, iwi representative Paul Madgwick said.

"Our district plans are currently bereft of just about any reference to manawhenua, Poutini Ngāi Tahu - you'd think we didn't exist. This begins to address that by weaving manawhenua into the plan, and these are really important starting points."

But one reference met with a firm 'no'.

The planners' summary said Ngāi Tahu had a sizeable piece of work ahead in identifying their significant sites.

"In addition, particularly in Buller, there are some older and archaic sites of other iwi such as Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Rarua."

Where sites of significance to iwi other than Poutini Ngāi Tahu were found, the council should ensure consultation with the relevant iwi to ensure that these were recognised and protected, the planners recommended.

Madgwick said a short history lesson was in order.

"Ngāti Rarua came through Tai Poutini at the time of the musket wars. They left faster than they arrived when Ngāi Tahu retaliated. They have no history in our land whatsoever."

To include the iwi in the Tai Poutini plan would be like saying Ngāpuhi had rights in Waikato, because of its raids there.

"Try to tell Tainui or Tūwharetoa or Ngāti Whatua that Ngāpuhi have a say in their lands - they'd get booted right out."

It was not the first time interlopers had attempted a foothold in the region, according to the Makaawhio chairman.

"These people have tried this before. They tried a challenge during the Ngāi Tahu Treaty settlement and they lost. The Māori Appellate Court decision is crystal clear, and I just want to put this to rest because this is insulting and it (the reference) needs to come out."

The case of Ngāti Apa was different - but they had no claim to manawhenua status either, he said.

A remnant of Ngāti Apa was chased out of Golden Bay by warring iwi, and took refuge in Kawatiri (Westport).

A few families were allowed to settle there under the mantle of Poutini Ngāi Tahu and the protection of its chief Tuhuru out of aroha because they had a whakapapa connection to Ngāi Tahu, Madgwick said.

That had also been tested and confirmed in court.

"Let me be crystal clear: tino rangatiratanga (chiefly authority) rests with Poutini Ngāi Tahu, from Kahurangi Point right down to Piopiotahi, Milford Sound, from the mountains to the sea.

"That is undisputed, it is absolutely enshrined and yet we have this ... with respect, the Buller (council) planning team that came up with this is misinformed."

The reference to other iwi with older and archaic sites on the West Coast was also unclear, as the Ngāti Apa families had arrived long after Ngāi Tahu.

"There may be archaic sites from Waitaha (iwi) and the like, but they are part of our history (Ngāi Tahu).

"Ngāti Apa will have sites, there is an urupā near Westport called Paroa and they will be protected absolutely, under our mantle. But to open this up would be a can of worms, it could become tribal warfare almost."

Council seeks protection of all sites

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine said his council simply wanted all sites of significance to Māori protected, whatever the iwi.

"I guess I would hope that Ngāti Waewae would be aware of what is significant to Ngāti Apa. It's about protection rather than who they are significant to."

Te Runanga o Ngāti Waewae chairman Francois Tumahai said Poutini Ngāi Tahu would identify any Buller sites in conjunction with Ngāti Apa.

"If they're appropriate we will have them added to the schedule. If not, we won't."

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith said the plan committee should make it clear that if the draft policy came back with the same references to other iwi, it would not be supported.

"I believe it's ultra vires ... the law is the law. This has been tested - let's get rid of it. And make sure it doesn't pop its head up again."

West Coast Regional Council chairman Allan Birchfield agreed any reference to consulting other iwi should be removed.

His council had a longstanding relationship with Poutini Ngāi Tahu and last year signed the country's first Mana Whakahono a Rohe iwi participation agreement with the tribe under the provisions of the Resource Management Act.

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