A proposed plan worth $10.3 billion to move Auckland Port to Northport near Whangārei has created strong debates around employment, economic value and environmental impacts. Local iwi Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei will support the move and have been working on a plan for Quay Park (Tōangaroa) in the city.
If the Auckland Ports are relocated to Whangārei, Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei wants the opportunity to invest in the vacant whenua.
Ngarimu Blair, Director of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa Ltd says:
“About 10 years ago the Ports of Auckland sold the land to overseas investors. We as Ngāti Whātua are saying if anyone... the council, the mayor or the port executives want to sell, we as the orginal owners are ready to purchase.”
While Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei is staying out of discussions, they fully support the move. If it all goes ahead, they want to create a waterfront that ensures better access to their taonga, Te Waitematā.
Blair continues, “Our vision is to collaborate with our people, and the community. Give them better access to the ocean because at the moment access is restricted.
“Ngāti Whātua's plan has a collaboration of information from various sources. We want to create initiatives around the water, open business areas and establish a museum, gallery and so many other things.”
The Auckland iwi are inviting others to partner with them, and invest as one.
“As descendants of Tuperiri, we are here to purchase, along with our investors. We understand that the price is high, so we're opening the opportunity up to other iwi, so we can come together and invest."
Perhaps the key to pulling this off, lies in the ancestral name of the area.
“The historical name of the area Te Tōangaroa means "the dragging of the waka," and is symbolic of working together in careful unison, and pulling in the same direction to secure the future of Auckland's super city.”
Blair maintains that the gifting of Te Tōangaroa was done in the traditional way, where land would be given for usage, but the original owners would maintain a stakeholder position.
“As the descendants of Tuperiri and Apihai Te Kauwau we still have an issue because even though we gifted the land we never ceded our rights to the land. Where is the evidence? The Crown and the Ports of Auckland under the Auckland Harbour Board took our rights.”
Who knows but perhaps Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei’s vision will become an Auckland reality.