Guardianship Strategy needed for Rangiriri battle sites

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Ngāti Naho Kaitiaki are looking to create a guardianship strategy for the historic cultural battlesites of Rangiriri Pā and Te Wheoro Redoubt which was returned to Waikato-Tainui in 2016. However since that time the sites have come under disarray.

Chair, Brad Totorewa says two years on it’s about getting stuck in and clearing away the growth.

“The weeds have started to thickly grow again,” says Totorewa.

“It's time for descendants of Naho to take care of the battle sites and clear the weeds.”

As mana whenua Ngāti Naho are taking up the mantle as caretakers on behalf of all descendants of those who fought against the British troops over 150 years ago.

“The issue is, even though there are 76 000 tribal beneficiaries, there's only a few of us doing the job.”

"So it's our job as those descendants to return and care for the land our ancestors died for says Totorewa.

For the first time since the invasion, Ngāti Naho have seized the commercial opportunities a year ago by opening a Museum and Arts store, a cafe and tourist venture, to retell their historic narratives.

“It wasn't a problem for our ancestors to dig trenches in 1863, a mile long. We just need look after that so that the throngs of people can come here and hear the history of this place.”

As a result, 5,000 children and adults have visited the sites with employment opportunities for Ngāti Naho descendants.

“Thousands of people have come to Rangiriri, so we are calling on the offspring of today to return to learn the history, learn the songs and haka, come to cut the grass.”

Work is underway to erect another 20 carved post in honour of those who fought at Rangiriri.

In the weeks ahead Ngāti Naho Kaitiaki will sit to formulate their guardianship strategy and consider government and tribal funding options.