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Wairoa Iwi And Hapū Witness Historic Return Of Whenua Following Treaty Settlement

(Photo supplied)

Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa has today celebrated the first return of whenua to iwi and hapū as part of their treaty settlement.

The transfer of the old Turiroa school is the first of 29 properties that were purchased by the trust from the crown. The former country school will be transferred to three kahui - Ngā Tokorima ā Hinemanuhiri, Te Hononga o ngā Awa, and Te Wairoa Tapokorau Whānui.

Last year the Trust received a grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to help with recovery from the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle. The grant will contribute to the conversion of the former school site into short-term accommodation needed for the rebuild.

Once converted, the facility will serve as accommodation for up to 19 individuals skilled in trades crucial to the rebuilding process, later transitioning into a residence for horticulture cadets as part of the organisation's comprehensive horticulture strategy.

Chief Executive, Lewis Ratapu, emphasised the multifaceted benefits of the project for the Wairoa rebuild and recovery efforts.

"This initiative will play a pivotal role in addressing our community's recovery and long-term resilience. It means we will now have accommodation for the extra workforce we need for the rebuild, as well as for our future workforce as a part of our long-term economic vision.”

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Ratapu stressed the urgent need for solutions, with some whānau still displaced since Cyclone Gabrielle, and others living back in damaged homes.

"Bringing life back to the whenua at Turiroa after being closed as a school for many years is monumental and another part of building Wairoa’s resilience. Working with the Hawkes Bay and Wairoa councils to move the community from category 2A to 2C recently means we can begin our rebuild efforts in earnest. Many whānau are unable to stay in their homes, lack the means to repair, are in overcrowded conditions or have returned to damp and damaged residences despite the health risks. This is our second winter since the cyclone so this project along with others provides a glimmer of hope for whānau."

He expressed gratitude to MBIE for their support in championing a housing and employment initiative tailored specifically for the community by Māori, for Māori, addressing the unique challenges encountered within the region.

“Working with the government and our businesses means we can develop solutions that produce better social and economic outcomes for our community. A win for all parties involved.”

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