Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu Ngahiwi Tomoana is encouraging a local gang to celebrate their unique Māori identity and learn their traditional language and customs. The call follows a patching ceremony of gang members on Te Mata Peak in Hastings, which Tomoana refers to as a sacred place.
Relinquish the gang call and replace it with the ancient call, says Tomoana.
“If they say, 'Tēnei au, Tīhei Kahungunu' [referencing tribal lineage], that would be okay but what they're doing is really new...it tramples on our authority to bark on our ancestral and sacred mountain,” says Tomoana.
The full name of the mountain is Te Mata o Rongokako, who is the grandfather of Kahungunu, from whom the Ngāti Kahungunu people descend.
“I know that most of them have lineage to Rongokako and have a right to go there, but it's perverse to do what they do, such as bark and call out 'SFH', this is disrespectful to our ancestor Rongokako," says Tomoana.
An apparent gang patching ceremony on Te Mata Peak has caused controversy in the community, with allegations of intimidation made by members of the public and a police decision to close the road leading to the summit.
“What I really want is to speak with the gang and explain to them how sacred that place is to us, to change the mindset from barking to “this is me.”
Tomoana says the gang may find benefit in learning more details about their ancestral lineage.
“Our iwi wants to create a dialogue with them so they understand our language and customs pertaining to Rongokako, pertaining to their own ancestral lineage and the genealogical ties between one another.”
The gang has met with Hastings District Council and the Te Mata Park Trust, who plan to improve the management of future such events.