Whanganui River Settlement Acknowledges Te Awa Tupua Status
Whanganui River Settlement Acknowledges Te Awa Tupua
Māori Party Co-leader and MP for Te Tai Hauāuru Tariana Turia says the Whanganui River Deed of Settlement signing today at Ranana Marae is an historic and significant occasion because it gives Te Awa Tupua, the Whanganui river, its own legal status with rights - and acknowledges its life force and the spiritual and physical relationship with Whanganui iwi.
“The pathway that has led to today’s signing has been long and often painful and difficult for our people. Since the 1840’s our elders most of whom have gone before us - have endured thousands of hours of lobbying, protests, petitions, hui, court hearings and negotiations with local authorities and Governments in a bid to not only stop the destruction of their traditional way of life along the Whanganui river – but also to restore the role of kaitiaki for the iwi and legally recognise the Te Awa Tupua status of the river. Gravel extraction, the clearing of swamps, the draining of rapids, the discharge of waste, the taking of water for electricity, the destruction of pā tuna (eel weirs) to allow steamers to traverse the river destroyed major food sources for our people and contributed to the rapid decline in the health of our river,” says Tariana Turia.
“The signing today signifies a key milestone for Whanganui Māori and the Crown. It means Whanganui iwi can now move forward, together in partnership with local authorities to take care of the river.”
“I mihi to all our ancestors and also to all those in most recent years who have taken up the mantle that has resulted in a durable settlement for our people. I pay tribute to them all for their perseverance and dedication to honour our awa and to give it the due respect it so deserves.”
“Today is a day that I reflect with great respect the words of the late Sir Te Atawhai Archie Taiaroa, former Chair of the Whanganui River Māori Trust Board who told us that ‘the negotiations will probably be long and complex so I ask we all stay focused, work together and support each other. What we are about to embark on is the fulfilment of the work that our tupuna began all those years ago. Now it is up to us to leave our mokopuna with a legacy that they can be proud of.’”
“Today we have started on that new journey that began with our ancestors - and I feel honoured to have been present at Ranana marae to witness this historic occasion,” says Mrs Turia.