Ngāti Awa Rāhui Following Death off the Whakatāne Headlands

A four-day rāhui has been put in place in an area of ocean and foreshore in front of the Whakatāne headlands following the death of a person on Sunday night.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chairman Joe Harawira says the rāhui would begin today (Monday, January 31) and run through until Thursday (February 3).

A rāhui, or ban, is a cultural practice that restricts the access to, or use of, an area and its resources. In in this case, access to the area from the Whakatāne headlands to, but not including West End beach, and its resources has been restricted for four days. The rāhui area is indicated in the attached map and includes Ōtarawairere bay.

Mr Harawira says there have been too many drownings this summer with New Zealand recording the highest number of deaths in the country’s waterways and this latest incident has added to that mamae.

He offered condolences to the person’s whānau on behalf of the Rūnanga and asked that people adhere to rules of the rāhui as way of respecting their grief and Ngati Awa cultural practices.

“We are the kaitiaki of this rohe (area) and our cultural practices dictate that we must instill a rāhui when something like this happens to keep everyone safe, but this also allows us to show respect to the grieving family. Our thoughts go out to this person’s whānau at this time.”


Michal Akurangi

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manager Taiao

Mobile: 027 647 7171

MEDIA RELEASE – Ōpihi Whanaungakore: Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa has lodged an appeal in the High Court


17 August 2021

In its recent Jurisdictional Decision, the Environment Court dismissed the argument pursued by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa that the Environment Court has jurisdiction to hear the appeals against the Whakatane District Council’s decision to grant consents to develop land to MMS GP Limited.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa have today lodged an appeal against this decision in the High Court. 

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, alongside Hapū members, are opposed to the consent application which seeks to develop culturally significant land.  Ngāti Awa, consider the subject site at 77 Bunyan Road and the broader areas surrounding the site to be ancestral land of significant cultural value. The consent application was made by MMS GP Ltd which outlined developers’ plans to build 240 residential lots, a retirement village, 13 access lots, eight reserve lots, and seven public road lots.


Ara-Wai Whakahau Recruitment Media Release

Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited welcomed 27 new staff this week at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae. The kaimahi are all employed under Ara-Wai Whakahau – Ngāti Awa Farms Limited: Waterways Protection and Riparian Planting Project which is funded through the Provincial Growth Fund.

Ara-Wai Whakahau aims to directly enhance te taiao through 22 hectares of native riparian planting and 72 kilometres of riparian fencing on our three farms’ waterways. Kaimahi will undertake training in preparation for the project which includes earthworks, spot-spraying, riparian planting, pest control, weeding and fencing. Ara-Wai Whakahau mahi will be completed at two dairy farms each located near Te Teko and Rotomā, and the drystock farm located between Ōhope and Whakatāne.

Ara-Wai Whakahau also has a number of social procurement objectives with a focus on employment of targeted workforces, local businesses, supplier diversity, skills and training, worker conditions, and environmental responsibility.

Te Rūnanga of Ngāti Awa Tumuaki Joe Harawira says:

 “I see this project as Ngāti Awa breathing life back in to Papatūānuku. It’s a step in restoring the mana, the mauri, the tapu of our awa and our manga in Ngāti Awa”.

Ngāti Awa Group Holdings CEO Tracey Hook says:

 “Recruitment of 27 kaimahi for Ara-Wai Whakahau is a significant undertaking and we are excited to see them grow as the project develops. Not only will this result in environmental benefits for our Iwi but it will contribute to our commitment to improving social, cultural and economic outcomes for Ngāti Awa whānau”. 

Ara-Wai is one of a number of environmentally focused programmes dedicated to restoring and preserving te taiao in the Ngāti Awa rohe. In 2020 Ngāti Awa launched Korehāhā Whakahau, a predator eradication programme to rid 4,700 hectares of land in Whakatāne and Ohōpe of possums benefitting biodiversity and creating training and employment opportunities. Korehāhā Whakahau is the first Iwi led project of its kind and currently employs 13 people.


Contact Bianca Ruakere for more information on 021 453 189



Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, alongside Hapū members, are opposed to a consent application to develop land directly adjacent to the ancient urupā, Ōpihiwhanaungakore. The consent application was made by MMS GP Ltd for a subdivision consent at 77 Bunyan Road, Piripai to the Whakatāne District Council. The resource consent application outlines developers’ plans to develop the Ōpihi Block into 240 residential lots, a retirement village, 13 access lots, eight reserve lots, and seven public road lots.

In the interests of kaitiakitanga, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa have opposed all forms of residential development at 77 Bunyan Road, because of its central location within a cultural landscape, including its close proximity to Ōpihiwhanaungakore Urupā, Ōhuirehe Urupā, Ōriini, Whakatāne River, and the coast.

The consent hearing will be held between 15th and 18th of February 2021.

Ngāti Awa whānau can attend any part of the consent hearing.

The hearing dates, locations, and times are as follows:

Monday 15th FebruaryWhakatāne District Council Chambers, Civic Centre, Commerce Street.Presentation of Applicant’s Case.9am – 5pm
Tuesday 16th of FebruaryTe Hokowhitu-A-Tū MaraePresentation of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Ōpihiwhanaungakore Trust and Ngāi Taiwhakaea Submissions.Pōhiri at 9am Hearing commencing at 10am – 5pm.
Wednesday 17th February (AM)Te Hokowhitu-A-Tū MaraePresentation of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Ōpihiwhanaungakore Trust and Ngāi Taiwhakaea Submissions.9am – 12pm
Wednesday 17th February (PM)Whakatāne District Council Chambers, Civic Centre, Commerce Street.S42a Report Authors1pm – 5pm
Thursday 18th FebruaryWhakatāne District Council Chambers, Civic Centre, Commerce Street.Applicant’s Reply9am – 5pm.

Ngāti Awa to host one year anniversary event to remember the victims of Whakaari.

Whakaari He Rā Maumahara Anniversary

We can confirm that Te Rūnanga of Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Awa) in co-operation with local and national government will host the official remembrance event to mark the first anniversary of the Whakaari/White Island eruption on 9 December, 2019. The event will take place at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae, 105 Muriwai Drive, Whakatāne on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th December, 2020. Exact timing and a programme is still being confirmed.

In planning this event we have been speaking with whānau that were most directly impacted by the tragedy. These include the survivors and the families who lost loved ones. The feedback we have received so far is that some whānau would like to participate in an event whereas others would prefer to observe. We are keeping their wishes at the centre of our planning and working towards a small-scale event that is respectful of the families wishes and at the same time provides an appropriate commemoration for the victims.

We have also decided in the interest of public safety to observe Covid-19 Level 2 restrictions even if  New Zealand is at Level 1. This means that we will limit the numbers inside the Mataatua Wharenui to 50 visitors, and the public gathering to 100 people. We will be encouraging attendees to wear masks or face coverings and will ensure social distancing is observed. We will review this decision as the day approaches ensuring that the health and safety of the public is at the forefront of our decision making.

We appreciate that with international borders likely to be closed overseas survivors and the families of victims are unlikely to be able to attend. To ensure that they can participate virtually, the event will be livestreamed and we are inviting these people to provide pre-recorded video content should they wish to. Ngāti Awa will work with its government partners and the local community to provide a larger and more inclusive commemoration event at a future date when travel is not restricted and when we are confident that that Covid-19 virus does not pose a serious risk.

Detailed plans for the event on 9 December are still being finalised and will be published in due course. In the meantime we would encourage you to check the Ngāti Awa website: where we will providing updates.


For further information please contact Tui McDonald on 027 252 7017.

He taonga te wai – Water is an inherited treasure

Ngāti Awa Iwi and hapū leaders, kaumātua and rangatahi have united at the High Court in Rotorua today to fight a proposal by Creswell New Zealand Limited (Creswell), to extract 1.1 billion litres of water per year from the Awaiti Canal Aquifer in Otakiri for water bottling. Ngāti Awa is progressing this appeal through Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa.

Creswell is a subsidiary of Chinese soft drinks giant Ngonfu Spring, headquartered in Hangzhou, China. Otakiri is a small rural settlement a short distance from Whakatāne and within the Ngāti Awa rohe.

Ngāti Awa first opposed the Creswell proposal in 2018, concerned that the proposal would have irrevocable and negative effects on te mauri o te wai, and that Ngāti Awa would not be able to carry out their roles as kaitiaki for a resource once it has been removed. This argument was summed up by Ngāti Awa pukenga and former Rūnanga Chair Dr. Hohepa Mason when he described it as: “too much water, to be sold, too far away”.

Leonie Simpson, Manahautū (CEO), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “He taonga te wai – water is an inherited treasure. Once it has been removed from our rohe our wai will never return. As kaitiaki and mana whenua we have a responsibility to act when decisions impact the natural resources within our rohe.

“In relation to the Creswell proposal this amounts to excessive amounts of our taonga being exported offshore and the impact this has on te mauri o te wai and our ability to be kaitiaki.

“We are also concerned about the wider allocation of freshwater rights in Aotearoa. Many of these consents are historical and are being bought up by investors all over New Zealand, who are simply attracted by the very high profits they can make. Allocation just keeps moving without any qualitative assessment on whether this is an appropriate use of water.”

Joe Harawira, Tumuaki (Chairman), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “We are focused on developing projects and businesses that are sustainable and create long-term meaningful opportunities for our Ngāti Awa people. Creswell plans to take a vital, scarce and precious resource forever.

“The benefits of the water, and the vast majority of the profits, will be enjoyed overseas. We cannot stand by and allow this project to progress unimpeded to the denigration of te mauri o te wai and our role as kaitiaki.”

The Creswell proposal includes plans to develop a manufacturing plant on site in Otakiri with the capacity to produce 1,800 single use plastic bottles per minute. Much of the water is destined to be exported to China, where artisanal New Zealand spring water sells at a premium.

Ngāti Awa are also concerned about water quality within their rohe. Residents of Whakatāne drink water with an E rating, the lowest acceptable level for human consumption in New Zealand, while residents living in Murupara and Kawerau also suffer from a poor-quality drinking water[1]

Ngāti Awa are determined that the views of New Zealanders who are overwhelmingly opposed to water bottling for bulk exports are not ignored. They have recently called upon the Whakatāne District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to back an initiative supporting a moratorium on applications to take water for bulk export and for councils to take a more holistic view of the potential effects of the current industry.

“Successive governments have failed to address the very real issue of water rights in Aotearoa. It is only fair that government work with Iwi and hapū as partners to address the issues of water quality, allocation and broader issues that impact our environment. In a country impacted by severe drought and water shortages it is nothing short of negligent to give this taonga away.

“To allow this project to progress will be a terrible mistake and not lead to positive outcomes for our mokopuna (future generations).” added Leonie Simpson.


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Bianca Ruakere: 021 453189

Notes to Editors:

Ngāti Awa are the descendants of Te Tini o Toi, the original inhabitants of the Eastern Bay of Plenty region, and the people who arrived on the Mataatua waka. Today Ngāti Awa represent 22 hapū and have 19 marae. For more information please visit the website:

Nongfu Spring is China’s largest supplier of packaged water and ranks as one of the top 20 beverage companies in China. They were founded in 1996 and are headquartered in Hangzhou, Zheijang Province, China. Creswell New Zealand Limited are a subsidiary of Nongfu Spring. For more information please visit the website:

[1] Source: ESR/Drinking Water for New Zealand:

First Iwi-led Predator Free 2050 project gets go ahead

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa has welcomed the announcement and funding of its Korehāhā Whakahau predator eradication project.

Funding was confirmed today by the Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae in Whākatane.

The $5.6 million-dollar project will be led and delivered by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa. Initial funders include Predator Free 2050 Limited, providing $2.4m through the Provincial Growth Fund, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings and Department of Conservation.

The project will benefit from $2.5 million announced today from the Department of Conservation’s Jobs for Nature programme, which will also support other, yet-to-be announced Ngāti Awa taiao projects.

Korehaha Whakahau initial aim is to get rid of predators, starting with possums, across a 4,700ha area covering Whakatāne and Ōhōpe, benefitting biodiversity and boosting regional development and tourism. Exact boundaries are still being determined at this early stage of the project.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manahautū, Leonie Simpson, says the project will connect Ngāti Awa people with the taiao, support kaitiakitanga amongst the Iwi and help them to reach their aspirations to care for and restore the taiao.

“This project is our first Iwi workforce development initiative post COVID-19. We will develop a group of kaimahi with transferable skills that not only support their whānau but also enable kaitiakitanga for our hapū and Ngāti Awa now and into the future.

“Our relationships with the taiao will continue beyond the project term and we are aiming for long term outcomes that are intergenerational.”

Ed Chignell Predator Free 2050 Limited Chief Executive says they are excited by the opportunity for new learning as Ngāti Awa brings its knowledge and connections to the Predator Free 2050 kaupapa.

“We will be sharing the latest trapping and detection methodologies to enable the project team to permanently remove possums from the project area and build their capacity in predator control operations.”

The Korehāhā Whakahau project covers both private, public and Ngāti Awa owned land. The funding will enable Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa to employ more people and continue to engage with other landowners to get the operational side of the project underway.

Leonie Simpson says Korehāhā Whakahau is an important part of a kete of mahi that Te Runanga o Ngāti Awa is developing post Whakaari and Covid 19. 

“Our suite of projects, which we have called POUA, encompasses existing and future projects like Kāinga (a new visitor hub at the Whakatāne Army Hall), a new commercial boat harbour led by a Ngāti Awa Lands Trust, riverside revitalisation and other taiao projects. POUA represents, Pou whenua (foundation posts) which signify our commitment to our rohe, our people and our future.

New POUA projects will be announced in the coming months as they are approved.”

Korehāhā Whakahau is the first iwi led ‘path finder’ project to receive Predator Free 2050 Limited funding.

For more information contact:

Michal Akurangi, Taiao Manager at Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa,

Tim Higham, Predator Free 2050 Limited Communication and Business Support Manager,

For more information about Predator Free 2050 Limited and its current projects see

Treaty of Waitangi Commemoration

Treaty o Waitangi Kauhau/Treaty of Waitangi Lectures

Held in collaboration with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi

Commemorating the Treaty Waitangi signed 16 June 1840

Ngā mokamoka whakahaere/Proceedings for the day for 16 June 2020

10.30 AMKōrero Timata/Opening RemarksAhorangi/Professor Wiremu Doherty
10.40 AMKaikōrero Whakaohooho Guest Lecturer Patapātai – QuestionsTe Kei Merito
11.00 AMKaikōrero Whakaohooho Guest speaker/s Pātapātai – QuestionsRangatahi Kaikōrero
11.20 AMKaikōrero Whakaohooho Guest Lecturer Patapātai – QuestionsJudge Layne Harvey
12.00 PMKaikōrero Whakaohooho Guest Lecturer Patapātai – QuestionsAhorangi/Professor Linda Smith ‘Ngāti Awa Futurities – How do we ensure that we flourish far far into the future’
12.50 PMKōrero Whakamutunga/Concluding CommentsAhorangi/Professor Wiremu Doherty
01.00 PMKai o te Poupoutanga o te Rā – LUNCH

Held at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi

13 Domain Road, Whakatāne, 07 3071467