Ngāti Kuri to maintain closure of SH1 to Cape Reinga

By Dean Nathan

Not until the house is in order will it be open to visitors.  That is the word from Ngāti Kuri over its maintaining its closure of state highway one in the Far North to Cape Reinga. 

Ngāti Kuri staff are yet to have a break from guarding their home base.

"Our staff and volunteers have only just become available to attend to maintenance and issues with the infrastructure needed to service facilities at Cape Reinga and Taputaputa and a range of other sites across this region to ensure no one is affected when the gateway here is opened.  That's our mission at this moment, it's not even about Ngāti Kuri but for the benefit of everyone," says Kereama Neho (Ngāti Kuri).

Staff and volunteers have only just completed nearly two months of 24-hour checkpoint surveillance of the roadway north during level 3 and 4 lockdown.

"We still have to manage with the utmost and maintain those high levels of safety so as part of being able to re-open to the world we also have a whole lot of work to do around cleaning up the facilities at the back there.  There is still small numbers that can be moved in campsite and areas across the country that are still closed, we’re having to manage out the back cleaning up those facilities," says Sheridan Waitai, Co-leader Covid-19.

Ngāti Kuri are not keen to host visitors until their house is in order.

"We do not want to get a bad reputation for not providing adequate facilities that would allow sickness to break out amongst our visitors," says Neho.

"Ngāti Kuri are the caretakers of this area and, therefore, represent all of the Māori world here in this region, so this is not about us at all."

Waitai says, "We can open the road but when you know this land, and you know this space and you know the facilities you have you’ve got to be practical that we’re still in Covid level 2. 

"We still need to have safe practices, so what does that look like?  And as we educate and empower others to move into our space to take more self-responsibility and self-management."

Ngāti Kuri are calling on the tribes throughout to support a ceremony this coming Friday to coincide with the reopening of state highway one to Te Rerenga Wairua.

There Ngāti Kuri plan to make an announcement with regards to the pathway of the spirits.

"The pathway of the spirits is already open.  Just behind us here are Haumu, Maringinoa, Waingurunguru and then Te Werahi from where the spirits climb upon Ngā Atua Peruperu before descending to where they depart this world.  And we will be making an announcement to the world in relation to this aspect on Friday," says Neho.

Ngāti Kuri are also looking to provide a live-coverage of their announcement.