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Tree Protection Group, Iramoko Marae Enter Unique Partnership

Honour the Maunga and Iramoko Marae have announced a unique partnership that gives life to Treaty principles in their joint efforts to save 345 trees from being felled on Ōwairaka / Mt Albert.

Honour the Maunga has maintained an ongoing tree-saving presence at the maunga for the past eight months and its actions have helped safeguard around 2000 trees on other maunga administered by Tūpuna Maunga Authority.

The community group formed a relationship with Ngāti Awa ki Te Awa o te Atua - Te Tāwera Hapu

- Iramoko Marae in late November and has deepened it through a series of gatherings and discussions on the maunga and at the hapu’s marae, near Matatā.

The partnership, which was recently formalised at the marae, saw Honour the Maunga members accepted as uriwhanaunga (extended family), which accords them a number of rights (including being able to stay on the marae as whanau, and eventually to be buried in the marae’s urupā should they so wish).

Honour the Maunga’s representatives sit on various marae committees, including the Governance and Environment rununga (councils), and its members provide additional expertise and support for a range of the marae’s activities.

Iramoko Marae Chairman Pouroto Ngaropō recently became an Honour the Maunga Patron, alongside Sir Harold Marshall, continuing his active support of the group with cultural guidance, providing advice and participating in ongoing public discourse on the tree issue.

Announcing the partnership with Honour the Maunga, Mr Ngaropō says: “We are all working together to protect Ōwairaka and her flora and fauna in a way that gives life to the Treaty of Waitangi.

“In doing so, we are acknowledging and protecting the mauri and histories of my hapu’s ancestress Wairaka, from whom the maunga was named, and those of the many others who have been here over the centuries.”

The high-born chieftainess Wairaka established her mana and mauri over the maunga around 850 years ago and her wairua (spirit) flows strongly through the maunga and surrounds to this very day.

Iramoko Marae and Honour the Maunga both affirm that they do not claim any ownership of the maunga’s land. However, both groups have their own deeply held spiritual relationships with it.

Mr Ngaropō and Honour the Maunga Spokesperson Anna Radford say the partnership and their goals for the maunga are based on Te Ao Māori – the Māori world-view of the environment, which acknowledges the interconnectedness and inter-relationships between all living and non-living things.

Honour the Maunga and Iramoko Marae’s strategic plan reflects this shared view, undertaking to embody Mana Atua / Spiritual connection – with the land (whenua), with ancestors (tūpuna) and with people (tangata).

They acknowledge the Ōwairaka situation has been fraught at times within the Auckland community and say their partnership is designed to role-model a positive Treaty partnership that celebrates unity while respecting each other’s differences.

The Ōwairaka tree felling is currently awaiting the outcome of a Judicial Review initiated by members of the public who are not part of Honour the Maunga.

Mr Ngaropō and Ms Radford note that even should the Judicial Review outcome or other events result in Ōwairaka’s trees being protected, there is a shared desire to continue working together on tree-saving, environmental and educational work, as well as to work together in supporting the marae to further revive Māori cultural practices and tikanga.

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