Supreme Court keeps the door open for Ngāti Awa challenge against Chinese water bottling giant

Supreme Court keeps the door open for Ngāti Awa challenge against Chinese water bottling giant

In a landmark initial judgment, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Ngāti Awa’s appeal challenging proposal by Creswell New Zealand Limited (Creswell), a subsidiary of Chinese soft drinks giant Nongfu Spring, to extract 1.1 billion litres of water annually from the Awaiti Canal Aquifer in Otakiri, largely for export to Asia.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, the post settlement governance entity for Ngāti Awa, hailed the recent decision as a positive step in the right direction to ensure that the iwi concerns about this proposal are heard by the highest Court in the land.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chief Executive Reuben Araroa said: “Ngati Awa are delighted that the Supreme Court has granted to us leave to appeal. This provides us with a clear path to challenge all matters we are concerned with to the Supreme Court and marks significant progress for Te Runanga o Ngati Awa who have been fighting this unjust proposal to bottle and export our most precious wai.

Ngāti Awa have been involved in a long legal battle to oppose the Creswell proposal to take and export in plastic bottles the pristine spring water from Otakiri saying that it would have irrevocable and negative effects on te mauri o te wai – the spiritual life force of the water.

The Creswell proposal also included plans to develop a manufacturing plant on site in Otakiri with the capacity to produce 1,800 single use plastic bottles per minute. The expansion of the site and the creation of millions of single use plastic bottles was opposed by community and environmental groups concerned about the impact on the environment and an inability to manage the end-use of the plastic bottles which would largely have been exported.

Mr Araroa said Ngāti Awa, as kaitiaki of this rohe, has an obligation to ensure our water and what happens to it align with our cultural and environmental values.

“I believe most New Zealanders agree with this stance given the very present and clear impacts of climate change. This is about representing and protecting the long-term future prosperity of our people and our communities.”

The Court will likely hear the appeals in full towards the end of 2023.

Whakatāne Kiwi Population Continues to Thrive

Whakatāne Kiwi Population Continues to Thrive

Last week, in a small grove on White Horse Drive in Whakatāne a contingent of environmental protectors gathered to release a new kiwi into the wild.

At the release, the name of the kiwi was also revealed as Tātea – a derivative of Kaitātea, which is the name of the time of the year that she was born in according to the Ngāti Awa maramataka.

Tātea is a progeny of the prodigious male kiwi, Whiuwhiu, and was found as an egg near the side of a road near Kohi Point Reserve. The egg was uplifted on December 19 and taken to the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua.

On January 2, the egg hatched and after four months Tātea, at just a smidge under the crucial 1000-gram mark, was returned to her tūrangawaewae in the Mokorua Scenic Reserve last Wednesday.

Kiwi have been released back into the Whakatāne area for more than two decades. In 1999, eight North Island brown kiwi were unexpectedly found in the Ōhope Scenic Reserve. These eight birds were the last of the population in Whakatāne with predators killing most chicks before they could reach adulthood.

The discovery of these kiwi prompted the development of the Whakatāne Kiwi Project, a partnership between the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (then Environment Bay of Plenty) and the Department of Conservation, in conjunction with Te Runanga o Ngāti Awa. Since then, the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust and the Whakatāne District Council have also become partners in the project.

The Whakatāne Kiwi Project is dedicated to the serious effort required to re-establish a thriving kiwi population. That dedication has seen kiwi in the Whakatāne area go from the original eight birds to now over 300 with manu in all three major reserves around town including Ōhope, Mokorua, and Kōhi Point scenic. The birds have also been established on pest-free Moutohorā.

Nowadays, kiwi literally live in the backyards of Whakatāne and Ōhope. Residents and visitors to the area have the unique opportunity to walk into the bush and step into kiwi territory. It is this exceptional set of circumstances that has led to Whakatāne gaining the tile of ‘Kiwi Capital of the World’.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manahautū Reuben Araroa said one of the many rewards that flows from the Whakatāne Kiwi Project was improvement of the local biodiversity as a whole and the iwi was committed to continuing its support for this mahi.

“For Ngāti Awa, our kiwi population restoration is one of the best measures of how our local eco-systems are functioning in synergy with our regional pest eradication programs. So, we are very pleased to see the Kiwi, a taonga (treasure) to Māori, culturally and spiritually, thrive is such economic and environmentally challenging times. 

“We also acknowledge the sponsors and especially the volunteers of the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust who contribute well over 200 days of their time each year to ensure our kiwi taonga thrive. The Iwi is grateful for their continued commitment.” 

Whakatāne Kiwi Trust Chair, Wayne O’Keefe said he was grateful of the support from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and its large-scale pest eradication project, Korehāhā Whakahau, at the release. “With the mood being set with karakia and waiata, it was a very special morning. Kiwi Trust volunteers and contractors work tirelessly to ensure these taonga have the best possible chance to thrive, and we are always humbled to play our part in this amazing project. Thanks also to all project partners, and especially to mana whenua for providing such a meaningful name.”

Community Focus for Whakatāne Anzac Day

Community Focus for Whakatāne Anzac Day

Two buses will be on hand to take people to a community breakfast at Te Whare o Toroa Marae following the Anzac Dawn Service at Pōhaturoa next Tuesday (25 April 2023).

The 40-seater buses will also be available to transport people from the marae, following breakfast, to the Whakatāne War Memorial Hall for the Whakatāne District civic ceremony.

Anzac Dawn Service in Whakatāne will take place at Pōhaturoa on Tuesday and the community is invited to gather before 5.30am. The Navy, through HMNZS Matataua, will march with service academy members, former soldiers, and their families to Pōhaturoa during the service. Children from Apanui Primary School’s whānau unit, Te Whānau o Awetope, will sit at the memorial for Te Hurinui Apanui in acknowledgement of Ngāti Awa and their ancestor.

Whakatāne RSA President Victor Hape said the buses would be parked at Wharaurangi to transport people from The Strand to the marae following the dawn service.

“It is a community breakfast and, therefore, everyone is invited to Te Whare o Toroa Marae. We gather at the waharoa to be called on to the marae with a karanga. However, rather than going into the Wairaka Wharenui, we will go straight into the wharekai, or dining room, for a mihi before we share a meal together and undertake the other formalities such as roll call.

“Following breakfast, the two buses will be on hand again to transport those who wish to attend the Civic Commemoration at the Whakatāne War Memorial Hall at Rex Morpeth Park. Doors open there from 9.15am, with the service starting at 10am. Once the Civic Service is completed, the buses will be available to transport people from the Whakatāne War Memorial Centre to the Whakatāne RSA, where everyone is welcome to join the entertainment, including a community lunch.”

During this time, members of HMNZS Matataua will attend the Whakatāne Riding for Disabled to support the charity organisation. HMNZS Matataua will also be involved in a golf tournament with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa on Monday, April 24.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manahautū Reuben Araroa said he was grateful to be able to partner other organisations to honour the shared history.

“It’s great to see the 100-year commemoration coming together and being appropriately supported by the Whakatāne RSA, Whakatāne District Council and New Zealand Defence Force officials leading up to the event. Pōhaturoa is a cultural taonga for Ngāti Awa so it’s important, from an iwi perspective, the significance of this is considered during the planning and delivery of the commemoration. 

“I also acknowledge Te Whare o Toroa Marae committee for making the necessary adaptations given their long history of hosting ANZAC day from the opening of every dawn service on their marae. Their continued support and leadership for the commemoration was essential for maintaining the involvement of cultural values that are important to our Māori service personnel past and present.

Whakatāne District Mayor Dr Victor Luca said he encouraged people to make an extra effort to be involved in the ANZAC commemorations. 

“While always a very important day in the calendar, ANZAC Day 2023 in our district is even more significant given we are marking the centenary of the first dawn service, at Pōhaturoa. The collaboration between Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, the RSA and Council has seen the introduction of the public transport between venues, so it’s never been easier for the community to attend both dawn and Civic commemorations.

Pōhaturoa Rock, Whakatāne

Pākihi – RIR Advanced: Ngāti Awa Doing it for Ourselves

Pakihi Stories: RIR Advanced

Pākihi – RIR Advanced: Ngāti Awa Doing it for Ourselves

“We can do it for ourselves!”

It is this belief that has driven Rachel Field to start a new job, create a business and launch a training programme for Ministry of Social Development in just over six months.

A mother of two, who affiliates to Ngāti Hāmua and Te Pahipoto, Rachel established RIR Advancement to support those who are wanting to gain employment by providing training for workplace skills.

Rachel spent more than a decade at the Department of Corrections where she started as an administrator, moved into supporting the development of life skills before finally working to assist people with their employment goals.

She said she enjoyed helping people to build better futures.

“I worked for Corrections for 13 years and my last role was employment and training. I did that in Eastern Bay during my final six years at Corrections.

“I went through a whole lot of different roles during my 13 years at Corrections starting as an administrator, before becoming a Work and Living Skills coordinator where provided support, including finding courses for our people to do such as parenting, anger management and suicide prevent. After that, I moved into employment training and the contribution that made within the Eastern Bay.

“I really loved that space but it was just time for a change.”

Rachel said she started a new role at TOI EDA as a contractor but had already put the wheels of a new business idea into motion. 

“Currently I am working at Toi EDA as a contractor. I started in February undertaking a 20-hour a week contract in the workforce development portfolio. I’ve learnt so much in the space and value the guidance of Toi EDA Chief Executive Donna Perese.

“Just before leaving Corrections, I started going through the process with Ministry of Social Development because I noticed they needed more suppliers to support people into employment.”

Rachel said she noticed many of those who were operating in the employment training space in the Eastern Bay were large companies from outside the rohe.

“I looked at some of the large companies that come and deliver these contracts and often they get Māori trainers just to get to them in the door. So, I thought why can’t we do it for ourselves?

“I have solid relationships, especially with trainers in the area, and I thought I could use them to support what I wanted to do because they are local. While they are not Māori, they are local, and the eventual goal is to have our own providing these services.

“I want to be local driven with our own local providers.”

After inquiring with the Ministry for Social Development about the opportunity, it was a quick turnaround for Rachel and her new business – RIR Advanced. She rung the ministry in October 2022, had a Zoom with them later in the year and by January they were telling her she could have the contract if she could complete the requirements by the end of the financial year.

Rachel said she was down for the challenge and worked to get her first intake of tauira. She launched the intake in March with a pōhiri at Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and commenced the first four-month training programme.

Along with providing training for tauira to gain their wheels, tracks and rollers as well as forklift, class 2 and class 4 licences plus Site Safe accreditation, RIR Advanced also supported tauira with resume writing, interview tactics and other soft skills.

Rachel said following intakes would be offered later in the year. Anyone who wants to join an intake must have a full drivers’ licence and be able to commit the required time to complete the program. However, in return, Rachel said she was committed to finding tauira employment and a career pathway by the end of the period.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manahautū Reuben Araroa said supporting the capability uplift of Ngāti Awa owned businesses supported by our Te Ara Mahi team created a strategic triad social benefit.

“Te Ara Mahi is a Rūnanga-led Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment funded project, which also aimed at supporting Ngāti Awa whanau to find employment. However, most of our employment placements are with mainstream businesses owned predominantly by non-Māori. The triad benefit referred to is when we can find tauira employment within a Ngāti Awa business that would then strengthen our economic capabilities as an iwi collective longer term.

“I have a strong view that Whakatāne is the next biggest opportunity for commercial development over the next 10 to 20 years. This is signalled by the level of financial interest and investment across the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Therefore, now is the time to start preparing our people for those opportunities not only to gain employment but to encourage and support business ownership and entrepreneurialism.”