Ngāti Whātua says claim concerning Manukau Harbour is not about ownership

By Taroi Black

Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei has lodged a claim for customary title and protected rights over the Auckland foreshore. Their interests include Kohimarama, and one part of the Manukau Harbour, which one of their leading negotiators says was occupied by their ancestors.   

Manukau Harbour is an area of significance for local iwi in the Auckland region. 

Co-Negotiator, Joe Pihema says, "It symbolises those particular past grievances in which our ancestors were past occupants of the land and sea. So we're gaining knowledge and understanding which areas of Ngāti Whātua had owned."

Ngāti Whātua's interest in Manukau Harbour extends from Blockhouse Bay to the Mangere inlet. However they're not looking for ownership. 

Pihema says, "At this stage we're not looking at ownership but we're looking for recognition since Ngāti Whatua signing the treaty."

The Manukau to local Maori was the central hub of traditional practises, fishing and played a big part in commercial exports. There are four major tribes who have a strong connection and had occupied the area is Waikato, Kawerau a Maki, Waiohua and Ngāti Whātua. 

Pihema says, "What is customary rights to us? It mean that our people are able to return to their ancestral lands, to fish and utilise our natural resources."

Ngāti Whātua doesn't want control in their claim but a more consistent, clearer input into decisions that are taken, that are made around those areas.