3 Mar 2022

'We feel mamae': Wellington iwi look to heal desecrated parliament

2:28 pm on 3 March 2022

Wellington iwi Taranaki Whānui say Wednesday's riot at Parliament was painful to witness, calling it further desecration of their mana and whenua.

Something is set on fire but police come in with fire extinguishers to put it out.

Fires were lit under huge pohutukawa in Parliament's grounds as protesters were forced out by police on Wednesday. Photo: RNZ

Parliament sits on the former Pipitea Pā, and the grounds are known as Kaiota to tangata whenua.

Taranaki Whānui have previously condemned the occupation's impact on the land, the vandalism of their marae, and harassment of locals.

Iwi chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice said watching what unfolded was disheartening.

"With the throwing of bricks, with the fire extinguishers, with the burning of tents and things on Parliament grounds, it's just unnecessary behaviour," he told Midday Report.

"Unnecessary actions that just do more to further desecrate the mana of our whenua."

For three weeks, Taranaki Whānui have borne the occupation on their rohe.

The iwi, normally hospitable to manuhiri, has spoken out about its whenua being tarnished, and condemned acts like sewage being poured down drains that lead to the harbour for which it acts as kaitiaki.

It has seen protesters falsely claim their own mana whenua status; kuia and kaumatua have been abused, and Taranaki Whānui's offices and marae have been vandalised.

Last week, it condemned attempts by some protesters to serve bogus trespass notices at Pipitea Marae, its ancestral home, in a flagrant breach of tikanga.

On Monday, in a ceremony at dawn, Taranaki Whanui, with the support of the Kiingitanga, laid down Te Kahu o Te Raukawa, a cloak of peace and protection. The protesters had not honoured their role as manuhiri, it said.

"We feel that [Wednesday's] actions did not uphold Te Kahu o Te Raukura. We laid down those expectations which I don't think were unreasonable. What we saw was the undermining of that."

Tents and rubbish litter Parliament grounds after clashes between police and protesters yesterday.

Paving was torn up as protesters made a last stand and large piles of debris were left as they were forced out of Parliament's grounds. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Another Wellington iwi, Ngāti Toa, has also condemned the protesters' use of the haka Ka Mate, which was composed by their ancestor Te Rauparaha.

"We feel mamae," said Puketapu-Dentice. "I think that is a feeling that is shared by a number of New Zealanders and Wellingtonians."

He said mana whenua will meet with the Speaker of Parliament and other agencies over how the grounds can be healed and restored.

"Obviously, we need to restore the mana and the mauri of the whenua and start a process of not only physically clearing the site, but spiritually clearing the site as well."

Puketapu-Dentice said they had also been inundated with support for mana whenua.

"We've had whānau members of the people who came on through the backdoor of our whare apologising on behalf of their whanaunga. We've had an outpouring of support from individuals, from ministers, from key leaders from throughout the country."

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