Manawatū iwi to meet 'Settlers Day' organisers

By Kelvin McDonald
Ngāti Kauwhata spokesperson Professor Meihana Durie.  Photo / File

Organisers of a Waitangi Day 'Settlers Day' event in the small Manawatū town of Kimbolton will meet with local iwi, Ngāti Kauwhata, today after some residents questioned whether there had ever been any Māori presence in the area, an RNZ report says.

"We were very concerned about the comments which in some ways were stating that there was, and is, no Māori - or particularly any iwi - presence there. That's incorrect," Ngāti Kauwhata spokesperson Professor Meihana Durie told RNZ on Sunday.

"So we want to be able to use that opportunity ... to share a bit about our presence in the region, but equally our responsibilities and our obligations."

The controversy was sparked when posters for the event appeared around the town but no mana whenua were invited.

Durie told RNZ that Māori occupation in the area dates back to between 1400 and 1500.

He said many iwi had used the area north of Feilding for access to kai and travel on Oroua River, including Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāti Apa and Rangitāne.