Hapū in the Bay of Islands are seeking meaningful discussions with local tour operators to better protect Motu Kōkako, also known as the Hole in the Rock or Piercy Island.
Ngāti Kuta and Ngāti Patukeha have made a claim for Customary Marine Title under the Marine and Coastal Area Act with the support of the Motu Kōkako Ahuwhenua Trust.
Spokesperson for the claims, Jamie Hakaraia-Hurikino, spoke to Kawe Kōrero and says his hapū want to be able to have a say in the tourism operations around Hole in the Rock.
So far, commercial tour operator Fullers GreatSights has come forward saying it “remains open to and would welcome further opportunities for discussion with Ngāti Kuta and Patukeha”.
Hakaraia-Hurikino says, “We would like to discuss a way forward in protecting the mana of Motu Kōkako as a sacred place, therefore we would like to ensure it remains as a sacred place. We want to ensure tourism operators are equipped with appropriate measures to protect it.”
Hakaraia-Hurikino says Ngāti Patukeha has looked after the island as well as the marine life around it. However the only people financially benefiting from the island are the tourism operators.
He says, “They have always held the upper hand and we are secondary. Therefore unless the law changes so we can all engage on the same playing field, we will be happy to engage and work together with them.”
There is no clarity yet on the process for the claims moving forward.