Ngāti Kearoa Ngāti Tuara and Council mark new partnership
A “momentous day” has seen Ngāti Kearoa Ngāti Tuara and Rotorua Lakes Council sign a Heads of Agreement that seeks to address past grievances.
In July 2022 Council agreed to enter into a Heads of Agreement (HoA) with Ngāti Kearoa Ngāti Tuara to establish a new partnership approach for ongoing management of the Karamu Takina springs, which supplies drinking water to Rotorua city.
The HoA also provides for land associated with the springs and two other pieces of land (Pururu North Reserve (tennis courts) and land at Tihi-o-tonga) to be returned to Ngāti Kearoa-Ngāti Tuara.
The heads of agreement was signed at a ceremony at Tarewa Pounamu Marae, Tarewa Road yesterday [Saturday 17 September 2022].
Robyn Bargh, Chair of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kearoa Ngāti Tuara, described it as “a momentous day”.
“It is 67 years since our hapū leaders agreed to support the community by providing water for the town. However, they didn’t agree to their lands being sold.
“Over the following few years the then Council took parcels of land under the Public Works Act until Council ‘owned’ over 14 acres (almost 6 hectares).
“Rotorua Lakes Council have agreed that the council doesn’t need to own the land. The Karamu Takina Spring can be co-managed with iwi. This is a wonderful, landmark decision for Rotorua Lakes Council.
“It is fitting the signing ceremony was held at Tarewa as the Agreement also includes the return of lands gifted by our kaumatua, Patu Ruhi, in the 1960s for use as the Tarewa Tennis Courts. Council no longer requires these lands so they are also being returned to the iwi.
“I’d like to congratulate Mayor Steve Chadwick and the Rotorua Lakes Council. They not only understand the importance of co-governance with iwi, they have had the courage to make it happen.”
Mayor Steve Chadwick said the occasion marked Council’s formal acknowledgement of past wrongs and went some way to addressing these through a new partnership.
“The not-so-distant history of the forced sale of your lands and then Council’s failure to meet the obligations of that sale are an uncomfortable truth that had to be acknowledged and addressed.”
Mayor Chadwick acknowledged the ongoing generosity of Ngāti Kearoa Ngāti Tuara, even when, she said, that was taken advantage of.
“I am sad that it has taken us nearly 70 years to get to this point, but very grateful that we are finally here.
“I hope that, as I step aside from the Mayoralty, that at Council and within our community we have made progress over the last nine years in how we live and work as a bicultural community.
“I particularly hope that leave a council that is more knowledgeable of tikanga Māori and te reo, better able to honour partnerships and is committed to our motto tatau tatau – because working together is our ultimate strength.”
Mayor Chadwick said the new partnership demonstrated the importance of effective and genuine working relationships with mana whenua in order to deliver good outcomes for the benefit of the whole community.
The then Rotorua Borough Council sought to purchase part of Tihiotonga A including the springs in 1954.
The Māori owners agreed to allow Council to access the spring to provide water to the city but asked that the land be leased rather than purchased. Council officers insisted it must be purchased, saying they could take the land as a public work if the owners would not agree.
As part of the subsequent purchase, the Council agreed the Māori owners could tap the pipeline at one connection to serve the Tihi-o-Tonga A Block. That obligation was recorded in conditions of sale certified by the Māori Land Court but between 2002 and 2014, Council wrongly charged the owners $125,030.98 in water rates. This is to be rectified as part of the new agreement.
Council continued to acquire additional lands surrounding the springs, primarily through the Public Works Act.
Council currently holds resource consent to take water from two of the puna at Karamu Takina to supply drinking water to the central urban area. That consent expires in 2026 and work will begin alongside mana whenua on renewal of the consent.
In 1964 lands at Tarewa (Tarewa 6B and 6C) were donated to the council to hold as a reserve (to be called Pururu North Reserve). Tennis courts had been built by the local people on the land. One owner gifted his land and Council purchased interests from the remaining owners.
Ngāti Kearoa Ngāti Tūara owners also gifted other lands to Council including Tarewa 7B (known as Pururu South reserve and gifted for use as a playground) and part of Kuirau Park (including the area underlying the Rotorua Aquatic Centre).
Tarewa Road remains a stronghold for Ngāti Kearoa Ngāti Tūara, with a number of Māori land blocks remaining in traditional ownership.
By 2020, the Pururu North Reserve tennis courts had fallen into disrepair and at the request of the original owners, Council consulted on the proposed revocation of the reserve status for Tarewa 6B and 6C which was subsequently agreed by the Minister of Conservation and was gazetted in 2021.
In late 2021, the Pururu South Reserve playground was due for renewal but recent investment at Kuirau Park meant replacing it was redundant and therefore, as the reserve is no longer required for the purpose it was gifted, revocation of reserve status and an offer back to the original owners is proposed. This will require a public submissions process.
(A comprehensive report providing the background was tabled at council’s Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee meeting of 14 July 2022 and can be viewed via THIS LINK – go to p22)
Ngāti Kearoa-Ngāti Tuara
Ngāti Kearoa-Ngāti Tuara descend from Kearoa (wife of Ngātoroirangi, navigator priest of Te Arawa waka) and Tuara (a descendant of Ika, who also arrived on Te Arawa).
The rohe of Ngāti Kearoa-Ngāti Tuara (traditional area) includes Horohoro, te Tihi-o-Tonga and Tārewa.
Their marae include Kearoa (at Horohoro) and Tārewa Pounamu Marae (on Tārewa Road) and their traditional landholdings include a block formerly known as Tihiotonga A, which includes the Karamu Takina spring.
The spring is revered by Ngāti Kearoa-Ngāti Tuara who are represented by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kearoa-Ngāti Tuara (‘Rūnanga’). The Rūnanga is involved in a number of cultural, social and environmental initiatives.
What the Council agreed to in July 2022
See THIS LINK for details about Council’s decisions regarding the Heads of Agreement with Ngāti Kearoa-Ngāti Tuara and associated matters.