Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei wants to settle Erebus memorial dispute

By Taroi Black

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei iwi, which supports the controversial Erebus memorial in the Parnell Rose Gardens, wants to reach an agreement with kaumātua and protestors - some of whom want to stop the construction.

The protestors have alleged the site choice was a deliberate move by the Ministry of Culture & Heritage to erase the memories of one of Tāmaki Makaurau's ancient pā sites.

Iwi deputy chair Ngarimu Blair told Te Ao Māori News there were multiple invitations that had "fallen on deaf ears" to resolve this conflict with the ministry.

“We see it as being part of our role as descendants of Te Kawau, Te Tinana and Te Reweti - my ancestor, who gifted the lands here to work with our Pākehā community.”

“So we have supported the establishment of this memorial and we believe it is appropriate.”

The Erebus memorial commemorates the 257 passengers and crew who died when their flight crashed into Mt Erebus on November 28, 1979.

Dame Naida Glavish, who is of Ngāti Whatua descent, is leading the fight for ‘Protect Mataharehare’,  standing beside members of the Parnell community and some of the grieving families who say they don’t see the relevance of the memorial on that site.

But Blair says there has been "talk and meddling" over the protest to protect the Mataharehare story.

“There are two places called Mataharehare, the Mataharehare in Te Tī Tūtahi in Newmarket and one somewhere else in Parnell. These protestors think Mataharehare is here. This is Taurarua. Our ancestors of Ngāti Whātua owned these areas during its conquest.”

A Waitematā local board member Richard Northey asked the Ministry of Heritage & Culture to meet with iwi and kaumātua who had placed the rāhui to resolve any issues before work on the memorial starts.

The Chief Ombudsman, who is investigating how the resource consent for the project was issued, is expecting a response from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage by November.