21 Dec 2020

Te Kawerau ā Maki reacquire ancestral land for marae at Te Henga

4:12 pm on 21 December 2020

Auckland-based iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki has reacquired ancestral land at Te Henga from a member of the Bethells family to build a new marae and papakāinga.

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Te Henga/Bethells Beach. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Te Kawerau ā Maki have been without a formal marae and papakāinga since the mid-20th century when their last remaining land at Te Henga were transferred.

The iwi has been searching for a piece of land for a marae since the early 1990s and negotiations over its transfer have been ongoing since 2007 when the former Waitākere city council acquired the land.

Agreement over the acquisition was reached between Te Kawerau ā Maki, Auckland Council and a member of the original settler Bethells family.

"The securing of land at Te Henga for a new kāinga whakahirahira marks a significant milestone for the future of the iwi and a return to our ancestral papakāinga", says Te Kawerau ā Maki chair Te Warena Taua.

"This is the culmination of years of work by our kaumātua and kuia, who we acknowledge today."

Te Kawerau Iwi Holdings director Edward Ashby said the building of the new marae and papakāinga within the tribe's heartland was crucial to the social and cultural renaissance of the iwi.

"We see the re-establishment of our marae and kāinga here as a project of the greatest cultural significance. We have continued to do our duty as custodians of our ancestral whenua in Hikurangi/Waitākere including in fighting forest collapse and kauri dieback, and this development provides a linchpin and tūrangawaewae for our people.

"The design of our eco-marae will form part of wider aspirations to uplift the mana and mauri of the iwi and the Waitākere Ranges, and to embracing the Te Henga and west coast community."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the transfer of land.

"I acknowledge the long journey to reach this milestone event, and also look to the future," he said.

"Te Kawerau ā Maki will now be able to re-establish a marae, and we hope that this transfer of land will signify a closer bond between Auckland Council and the iwi."