Tumu whenua in Kaitāia attacked

By Tumamao Harawira

Police in the Far North are investigating an attack on a recently unveiled carving in Kaitāia meant to symbolise unity in the Far North.

The almost four-metre tall carving, named Ōrongo, was erected on a well-known site in the township of Kaitāia, and there are conflicting reports about  why the carving has been damaged.

Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi says Ōrongo is a name that commemorates the history of this region of Kaitāia.

"We erected the carving at a place named Moerua. It is named Moerua, to commemorate an ancestor named Toa-Kai. This is the place where he wed two women."

"It's offensive, and the person who has done this, whoever they are, wherever they are from, is ignorant."

It is believed that Māori are responsible for the destruction of the pou but Piripi says they hadn't just erected the pou overnight. They made sure there was widespread discussion on placing the pou at Moerua.

'Cowards sully the name of Kaitāia'

"For over a year we had spoken to the community. We visited this group and that group, this hapū, and this iwi. If anyone has said that they didn't know about this kaupapa, they need to have their senses checked."

"It is very different what they have done, We have seen Māori attacking Māori, tikanga Māori attacking tikanga Māori, rangatira attacking rangatira. Where the bloody hell is that thinking from?"

Politicians Shane Jones, who posted a video on social media highlighting the damage, is livid at the suggestion that some people weren't in agreement that the pou should be erected at Moerua, and that the decision wasn't made under a tikanga Māori concept.

"I'm sad because these cowards have chosen to sully the name of Kaitāia. They have abused this gift meant to be a sign of hospitality and support for the community of Kaitāia."

"Some are saying that this is about tikanga Māori. I have one word for those rascals who want to talk about tikanga. That person who attacked that carving will soon be overcome."

"The money used to build the carving wasn't about giving one iwi more mana over another. It was done to celebrate and uplift, and to bring together the community of Kaitāia."

No arrests yet

Te Ao Māori News asked the police for comment. They say they are aware of the damage to the pou and are seeking suspects.

"Police are investigating a report of damage on South Road, Kaitāia, which was reported to police around 3.15 pm on Friday, September 20.

"At this stage, our enquiries into the incident remain ongoing and no arrests have been made."