On Saturday 20th August, a Pou whenua was erected at dawn in Mimiwhangata by the hapū and marae of Ngātiwai. This Pou was raised to protest against and signal dissatisfaction with the Government’s proposed marine legislation at Mimiwhangata.
The pou, named Manaia, was carved by Ngātiwai Tohunga whakairo Te Warihi Hetaraka. The name is significant, as Mimiwhangata is the ancestral homeland of Ngāti Manaia and Ngātiwai.
Whanau gathered at 4am in the early morning darkness at Mimiwhangata ready to unveil the Pou Manaia. It was a cold and wet morning, but this did not deter whanau. Around 120 people gathered, with hapū from all of Ngātiwai present, to mark this memorable day in history.
The karakia and korero were led by Aperahama Edwards, Hori Parata and Te Warihi Hetaraka, with all those present responding when Aperahama called “Ko wai te ingoa o tenei pou? “Ko Manaia!” This was said three times to affirm the name of the pou as Manaia.
After karakia, everyone took turns at touching or giving a hongi to Manaia, after which some beautiful korero, mihi mihi and waiata were had. The day was completed with a hangi and whanaungatanga.
Kaumātua Kathy Caldwell said “Today was such a lovely and special day for me. When we all come together on a kaupapa such as this, it shows that all of Ngātiwai can be united as one. The wairua that I felt today was beautiful. I hope that today can be the beginning of Ngātiwai truly unifying together as an iwi. The memories of today will stay with me forever.”
Carmen Hetaraka and Hone Matenga, Rangatira and Kaumatua of Te Uri O Hikihiki, led the organising of the day.
Carmen said “By planting this pou we are telling the government that if they want a marine reserve, we have to be involved and we want to see it under traditional management. We will develop and submit a model that suits us, this being Rahui Tapu. We want to create a Co-Governance and Co-Management plan which is led by us.”
“The Rahui Tapu that we want to see in place is that which Te Houpeke Piripi laid the foundation for by way of Karakia over a decade ago.”
“Today our hapū followed through on his dreams and aspirations for this place by planting Te Pou whenua Manaia.”
Chairman Haydn Edmonds says “Ngātiwai Trust Board supported the action taken and led by the local hapū of Ngātiwai.”
“Mimiwhangata is the ancestral homeland of Ngāti Manaia and Ngātiwai. Manaia is the founding ancestor of Te Iwi o Ngatiwai. The kaitiaki of this homeland, Te Whanau Whero, Tiakitai, Te Uri o Hikihiki, Ngati Rehua ki Whananaki and Ngātiwai have made a stand against the Government’s proposed marine legislation, and as an iwi we fully support them.”
“Our hapū exercise kaitiakitanga in this area on behalf of all of Ngātiwai. Over many years there have been discussions with the Crown around their proposed legislation at Mimiwhangata. We are now signalling to the government that this is our whenua and our moana and we will manage it how we see fit. So we absolutely support our hapū in erecting this Pou for all of Ngātiwai.”
“As Ngātiwai, people of the sea, a strong message is being given to the Government that we are dissatisfied with their proposed marine legislation, not only in Mimiwhangata but also the proposed marine legislation for the Hauraki Gulf and their plans for an ocean sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands.”
“The government has a track record of not consulting fully with all interested parties on these important issues. These types of legislation they are trying to introduce will extinguish and expropriate Māori customary and commercial fishing rights, and sever our relationship with Tangaroa.”
“This is a clear signal to the government that as a treaty partner, Māori are not happy with the process that they have gone through in the past and that they need to up their game. We are telling the government that we are reclaiming Mimiwhangata. We will be seeking the return of this place, the Homeland of Ngātiwai, as part of any Treaty Settlement we enter into with the Crown. We want everyone to know, Ngātiwai have come home!”
“Today has been a wonderful day. History has been re-written. Ngātiwai has come back to Mimiwhangata, our ancestral home, by planting this Pou. Those that know our history, know what I am referring to. It is wonderful to see so many of our whanau, hapū, iwi and supporters here to celebrate this day.”