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Historic Inauguration Ceremony Welcomes Te Pou Tupua

Historic Inauguration Ceremony Welcomes Te Pou Tupua

In a historic first, Dame Tariana Turia and Whanganui Iwi Poukōrero (tribal historian) Turama Hawira were inaugurated as Te Pou Tupua at a pre-dawn ceremony at the Whanganui River in Taumarunui this weekend.

Te Pou Tupua is a unique station that acts and speaks on behalf of Te Awa Tupua. Te Awa Tupua is the new legal status recognising the Whanganui River as an indivisible and living whole. This status was conferred by legislation passed in March which also established the Whanganui River as a legal person.

Dame Tariana and Mr Hawira were jointly appointed as Te Pou Tupua by the iwi of the Whanganui River and the Crown on 29 August 2017 for the next three years.

Whanganui Iwi Leader Gerrard Albert said the ceremony was a historic moment for the nation.

“Seven months ago, Tupua te Kawa - the innate values of Te Awa Tupua that stem from a hapū and iwi value system - were recognised in statute for the first time. Dame Tariana and Mr Hawira have now been consecrated as the voice of Te Awa Tupua in line with Tupua te Kawa.”

Mr Albert said Te Pou Tupua is an active rather than symbolic role.

“Dame Tariana and Mr Hawira will speak, promote and take any appropriate action they feel necessary to uphold, promote and protect Te Awa Tupua.

“The effort it has taken to achieve the paradigm shift that sees all communities of Te Awa Tupua share responsibility for the health and well-being of the River in line with Tupua te Kawa is not lost on them,” Mr Albert said.

Dame Tariana confirmed the importance of the role when she spoke at the inauguration ceremony.

“The station of Te Pou Tupua is probably the most important role either Turama or I have ever been appointed to. It is a huge honour to represent Te Awa Tupua and to be able to serve the people,” Dame Tariana said.

Te Pou Tupua have the responsibility of speaking on behalf of, and upholding the status, of Te Awa Tupua.

“We cannot do this without speaking to the communities of Te Awa Tupua first. Our initial task will therefore be to seek out and engage the Awa community mai i uta ki tai, from the source of the Awa to the sea, to gather views on how the new status and Tupua te Kawa can be best utilised in the interests of promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the Whanganui River and its communities.”

“We look forward with eagerness and humility to undertaking this task on behalf of the indivisible and living whole that is Te Awa Tupua,” Dame Tariana said.


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