Te Rerenga Wairua reopens for the 'living'

By Te Ao - Māori News

Far north wāhi tapu Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) will be open for manuwhiri (visitors) this afternoon. A pōwhiri ceremony was held at 12 pm to welcome people back to the cape after Ngāti Kuri closed it down for safety purposes.

After the pōwhiri, a whakamoemiti (blessing) will commence. A Ngāti Kuri delegation will make their way, by foot to the cape. This will complete the required takahi huarahi (treading the path) needed to open the area again.

Ngāti Kuri Chair Harry Burkhardt says that the iwi is looking forward to lifting the restrictions on their wāhi tapu. 

“During these unprecedented times our land, our air and our seas have rested and recovered. Now is the opportune time to reset how our manuhiri, both local and international, engage with and behave in our special places,” Harry Burkhardt says.

After the necessary ceremonies, Burkhardt says that Te Rerenga Wairua will be open again. He urges caution and encourages manuwhiri to act responsibly.

“In keeping with our kaupapa of maintaining kuia and kaumātua [sic] safety, we ask that those who do make the journey to stick to the groups you come in, practise safe social distancing and utilise the hygiene stations that will be available. Come prepared for all weather conditions and we ask that any at-risk whānau please stay home,” Burkhardt says.

“The support and understanding from people all over the world has been incredible. It is nice to know that most of the visitors that come understand the sacredness of this place.”

Dame Naida Glavish fully supports such a recalibration of Te Rerenga Wairua.

“We have an obligation to reaffirm Te Rerenga Wairua as Wāhi Tapu through our cultural practices. I will be personally attending to tautoko (support).”

Far North Area Commander, Inspector Riki Whiu has been working with Far North communities throughout COVID and says the safety of all has been his focus.

“In every speech of farewell, the words Haere ki Te Rerenga Wairua or similar would have been used. COVID 19 has placed severe restrictions on Maori to practice the full extent of tikanga. This is an opportunity for the iwi lay some of that rest and reset.”