Ngāti Raukawa gathered earlier this year at Koputara, Himatangi to take part in a wetlands restoration project.
A report published recently says the loss of Māori rights to waterways has been more serious than the loss of land.
The Rangitīkei River and its Tributaries Historical Report by researcher David Alexander investigates the historical treaty claims issues relating to the Rangitikei River. Alexander says the loss of Māori rights to waterways has been very heavy – heavier in some respects than the loss of land. The report investigates the extent of this loss and describes in detail on how it happened.
Prior to 1840, authority over waterways, which included virtual ownership of natural resources of value, was exclusively held by tangata whenua. Today, the Crown is the dominant authority and has become involved in nearly every aspect of river management, control and authority. It is how that transition from Māori to Crown authority has evolved that is the subject of Alexander’s report. It relies principally on written Crown and local authority records as its sources of information.
The report is one of two that have been completed recently. They are part of a series of eight technical reports that support treaty claims of all iwi in the Porirua ki Manawatū Inquiry District. The second report is the Rangitīkei River and its Tributaries Cultural Report by Dr Robert Joseph.
This report includes all iwi and hapū who are connected to the awa and can be viewed as being complementary, or an overview, to the evidence produced by those individual tribal claimants. It draws together the common themes and experiences of those hapū and iwi.
The overall kaupapa is the Rangitīkei River and its tributaries are taonga and tūpuna awa. The report attempts to articulate the cultural interconnectedness of the rivers, the iwi and hapū.
The river as a cultural source of unity is expressed by a kaumātua who said: “All the hapū along this river here ...we have a whakapapa link to them.” This sense of unity goes against with what often happens with treaty settlements where the process can be divisive and tensions are created.
A Ngāti Hinemaru kaumatua expands on this when he was asked about ownership of the Rangitikei. He answered by saying perhaps the more appropriate question could be who has stewardship? His answer was iwi and hapū, as well as local government, farmers and other key stakeholders - so everyone needs to be kaitiaki.
There are now three completed reports with the third being a report on Lake Horowhenua by Lou Chase. Also available is the Inland Waterways Cultural Perspectives Draft Report. This is one of two reports concerning inland waterways for the Porirua ki Manawatū Inquiry. The other is the Inland Waterways Historical Report.
Professor Whatarangi Winiata, invited 12 iwi members to review the draft report and provide feedback to the authors. The group met on 28 November to discuss their findings, provide feedback and share their own experiences. The group were supportive of the report and congratulated the the researchers on their work. Te Hono will file the feedback with the researchers and Crown Forestry Rental Trust at its December Council meeting.
Any feedback on the draft report needs to be submitted by 5pm, Monday 9 January. The final report is due to be published at the end of March 2017.
Copies of these reports can be downloaded from the Te Hono website.