Māori land trust harbours big hope for Whakatāne’s future

Published: Apr 28, 2020

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  • News and announcements
  • Bay of Plenty

Almost 11 hectares of Māori freehold land will anchor a new “off-river” boat harbour for the eastern Bay of Plenty, after the Provincial Growth Fund announced $19.6 million of support.

Attendees listen as funding is announced for the Whakatāne Regeneration Programme.

The Boat Harbour Development project will give commercial users in Whakatāne access to better facilities and more berths, thereby increasing economic returns for the local community.

Project Manager for Te Rāhui Lands Trust, Dayle Hunia says the development is the result of collaboration between the Trust, industry specialists, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited and the Whakatāne District Council.

“The Boat Harbour Development is a big deal for our little Trust. Together with our project partners, we have worked hard to ensure that the project reflects our shared values and aspirations for sustainable economic development in Whakatāne.”

An important next step is to support workforce development by establishing a marine training centre in partnership with training providers and local boat builders.

“Thanks to this funding, we can progress discussions about career pathways and creating jobs with greater certainty,” says Mrs Hunia.

“The investment from the Provincial Growth Fund has enabled our Trust to unlock a once in a generation opportunity to transform futures for our Ngāti Hokopū whānau and for all who reside within the rohe of Ngāti Awa.”

The project outcomes are not limited to economic returns either. The Trust is guided by principles of sustainability, cutting-edge innovation and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of the environment.

“As kaitiaki (guardians) we are committed to strengthening our relationship with our river. We’ve planned comprehensive mauri (life force) enhancement, environmental restoration and kaitiaki monitoring programmes.

“Our monitoring weaves mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) together with ‘e-DNA’ technology. This technique involves testing soil, water or air for the DNA of specific organisms, which informs us of the area’s overall environmental health.”

Project partners continue to be guided by a Ngāti Awa whakataukī (proverb), which encapsulates the boat harbour project approach:

Te kākahoroa tū tōtahi mōriroriro kā whati i te hau, te kākahoroa tū pāhekoheko e kore e whati.

The toetoe that stands in isolation will be destroyed by the elements with ease; however the toetoe that grow en masse will withstand the winds’ destructive forces.

The whakataukī suggests that the strength to survive can only be found through true unity.