Pou whenua's head sawn off in Aotea racially motivated attack, say some mana whenua

By Kelvin McDonald
Credit / Newshub

A pou whenua has been sawn off at its base and its head cut off in what some mana whenua believe is a racially motivated attack on Aotea Great Barrier Island.

"Our hearts are broken and our minds are shying away from the enormity of this terrible mahi that's been done," Ngāti Rehua Ngāti Wai ki Aotea spokesperson, Jeff Cleave, told Newshub.

The pou was located at Okupe, Blind Bay and is one of three pou positioned around Aotea. 

"We now have racism coming out in the open," said Cleave.

"Desecration of something that we hold most special is one of the worst things they could do for one of our sacred mahi, and that's around rāhui and the installation of pou whenua."

Credit / Newshub

Cleave told Newshub they hope the culprits seek help immediately.

"The ugly face of racism that hides in the closet now feels empowered to come out in the open and do what they will without thought or consequence.

"The issue we have is that these people have broken tapu and in that they have made themselves unsafe."