Ngāti Mahuta fed up with on-going abuse by travellers

By Harata Brown

Ngāti Mahuta descendants of Kāwhia are fed up with the on-going abuse by travellers to their restorative efforts to protect the erosion of their lands.

Kāwhia Moana continues to eat away at its banks, and local hapū Ngāti Mahuta have long been working to reserve their lands. 

According to Papi Te Oneha Cunningham, “We planted harakeke and mānuka to help it stay together, but only just after planting them these people come on the motorbikes and cut away at the bank.”

Below Maketū Marae is the access way to the west coast beaches.

Yesterday, some members of Ngāti Mahuta erected signs to stop the abuse to the spinifix and pīngao they have planted on the banks of their Māori land block, which is within 1km from the marae.  But Horahaere Scott says some have turned a blind eye.

“What would you do if it was your land, and that is what we did yesterday, we blocked it off.  We put up a no trespass sign, it was pulled down, one of our members put it back up, and it was pulled down,” describes Scott.

Before the recent washouts, travellers would travel along a path which is now under Kāwhia Harbour.  This point is called Matatua, it is the resting place of local guardian Te Ātai o Rongo.  It is said that once he leaves, it is indeed an omen.

Papi Te Oneha Cunniham says, “Our guardian is angered by what we are doing here at his harbour.  It is a sign that this must not continue.”

Concerned shareholders of Maketū block lands are considering whether to block the gateway to the west coast, whether to find another route also.