Log In

Reset Password

Boundaries in dispute - Ngati Porou bidding for customary title

Tribal boundaries are a major issue of contention in a bid by Ngati Porou to obtain legal customary title of the East Coast foreshore and seabed.

Ngati Porou are seeking to secure customary title and rights through the Nga Rohe Moana o Ngati Porou Bill (No 2), which had its first reading in Parliament in May.

A Maori Affairs Select Committee hearing on the bill was held in the Jesus Christ Repentance Church at Kaiti Mall yesterday.

If the bill is passed, Ngati Porou will be the first iwi to secure a settlement over the foreshore and seabed, establishing customary title over specific areas of coastline along the East Coast and Gisborne.

If the bill becomes an act, it will see protection of waahi tapu (sacred sites), customary fishing rights, as well as iwi consent required for resource consents.

It has been a long process for Ngati Porou, who first negotiated a settlement in 2008 under the Labour government after the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act was enacted.

The bill was then delayed after the National-led coalition government with the Maori Party repealed the Foreshore and Seabed Act in 2011 with the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.

However, hapu boundaries outlined in the bill have concerned some East Coast hapu and Turanga iwi, Rongowhakaata, who raised grievances about the bill in their submissions.

The major concern for Rongowhakaata is that Ngati Porou has included in its boundary Te Toka a Taiau — the culturally-significant rockThe major concern for Rongowhakaata is that Ngati Porou has included in its boundary Te Toka a Taiau — the culturally-significant rock that was once near the Turanganui rivermouth before it was blown up by Gisborne Harbour Board in the mid-1870s to establish a channel.

“Te Toka a Taiau has never been a boundary,” Jody Wyllie of Rongowhakaata submitted to the select committee.

“The korero we have is not made up. This is of our ancestors. We are just reiterating what we have already said.

“The mana of this whenua (Kaiti area) is from Ruapani, not from Ngati Porou. It is our tipuna (ancestors) who owned land here.

“Don’t go making whakapapa up. It is also very dangerous playing with boundaries.

“Ngati Porou do not have interests in Gisborne.”

Rongowhakaata says it has mana over the moana from Te Kowhai at Te Wherowhero lagoon to Pouawa.

This same claim crosses over with hapu, Ngati Oneone and Ngati Konohi, who say they have mana moana in some areas within that region.

Ngati Oneone say their domain is from Pouawa down to Te Toka a Taiau, and opted to go with Ngati Porou by ratifying the bill last year.

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust chairman Moera Brown said the choice for Ngati Oneone to align themselves with Ngati Porou was theirs to make.

“We challenge the select committee to explore how this bill really reflects mana tuku iho (inherited mana),” she said.

“The bill provides some provisional treatment to Ngati Porou. The Rongowhakaata stance is that the same opportunity be available for similar iwi.

“The bill puts Rongowhakaata at a disadvantage. Our recommendation is to remove the reference (Pouawa to Te Toka a Taiau) from the bill.”

Ngati Konohi did not support the amendments made to the bill and says it has been excluded from the bill through its name, but its rohe boundaries are still included on the map.

Ngati Konohi, who hold mana whenua over the Whangara and Pakarae area, says its rohe moana goes right around past Pouawa to Tatapouri.

'Ngati Porou has never held mana over the beach south to Tatapouri'“Ngati Porou has never held mana over the beach south to Tatapouri. We established reserves without any assistance from Ngati Porou,” a Ngati Konohi representative said.

Ngati Konohi are one of seven hapu within Nga Hapu o Te Kokoronui ki Te Toka a Taiau Takutai Kaitiaki Trust who are concerned at the lack of consultation with hapu about the bill.

Spokeswoman for the group Marise Lant says there had been a conversation between Ngati Porou and the Crown that hapu have been left out of.

She recommended to the committee to halt the current process.

“Many of us are hapu-orientated and there are discussions that have been happening that we haven’t been part of.

“We support that many of our whanau (other hapu) want to be part of this bill. It’s disappointing that we have to come back and ask the committee to pause the bill so we can have these discussions.”

Trustees of Te Ariuru Marae at Tokomaru Bay said while they acknowledged and supported other whanau for choosing to be included in the bill, they had chosen an independent path and also had an issue of boundary with Ngati Porou.

They encouraged the select committee not to be hasty with passing the bill until the issues were addressed.

The southern boundary of Ngati Porou has long been contentious. But the iwi stands firm on where it believes it lies.

“Ngati Porou, mai Potikirua ki Te Toka a Taiau (Ngati Porou, from Potikirua in the north to Te Toka a Taiau in the south),” said Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou chairman Selwyn Parata.

“Ngati Oneone are the mana whenua of this area (Kaiti block to Pouawa) and they have ratified to support the bill.”

Chief negotiator for Ngati Porou Matanuku Mahuika also addressed the issue of boundaries.

“There were some hapu who supported the bill in 2008 but have since chosen not to. That’s their entitlement and we respect that because it is based on the mana of the hapu.

“There is an opportunity at any time for them to sign up to the agreement.

“Rongowhakaata are entitled to make their application. Our position has been to support Ngati Oneone. They are the hapu that has mana whenua, and have done consistently, from Pouawa ki Te Toka a Taiau.

“The rights will reside with the hapu.”

File picture