Te Kawerau ā Maki secure land to establish marae and papakāinga

By Te Ao - Māori News

Te Kawerau ā Maki are celebrating a significant milestone that will help secure its social and cultural revitalisation for future generations.

The iwi has acquired ancestral land at Te Henga/Bethells Beach in the Waitākere Ranges to establish a marae and ‘kāinga whakahirahira’ for its people. 

Te Kawerau ā Maki have been without a formal marae and papakāinga since the mid-20th century when their last remaining lands at Waiti (Te Henga) were alienated. The hunt for suitable land for a Te Kawerau marae goes back to the early 1990s, and negotiations over its transfer to the iwi go back to 2007 when the former Waitākere City Council acquired the land for this purpose.       

A partnership with Auckland Council and a member of the original settler Bethells family has helped the iwi take a step closer to a long held aspiration.

Iwi Chair Te Warena Taua says, “this is the culmination of years of work by our kaumatua and kuia who we acknowledge today.” 

Te Kawerau Iwi Holdings director Edward Ashby believes the building of the new marae and papakāinga within the tribe’s heartland is crucial. 

“We see the re-establishment of our marae and kāinga here as a project of the greatest cultural significance. We have continued to do our duty as custodians of our ancestral whenua in Hikurangi/Waitākere including fighting forest collapse and kauri dieback, and this development provides a linchpin and tūrangawaewae for our people. The design of our eco-marae will form part of wider aspirations to uplift the mana and mauri of the iwi and the Waitākere Ranges, and to embracing the Te Henga and west coast community.” 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says “Te Kawerau ā Maki will now be able to re-establish a marae, and we hope that this transfer of land will signify a closer bond between Auckland Council and the iwi.” 

The iwi plan to continue refining their design, seek resource consent and begin the process of fundraising for the build.