Significant next step to restore mana of Taniwha Springs
Work has begun on another significant milestone towards restoring the mana of Ngāti Rangiwewehi’s Taniwha Springs/Te Waro Uri spring.
Ngāti Rangiwewehi holds mana whenua over Pekehaua Puna Reserve where the spring is located. Today, with the support Ngāti Rangiwewehi and trustees of Te Puna a Pekehaua, Te Waro Uri continues to supply fresh water to Rotorua’s Ngongotahā and Awahou communities (and Te Koutū in cases of emergency).
A partnership between Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Rotorua Lakes Council resulted in a joint consent for ongoing water take from the spring, believed to be the first such consent of its kind.
Work on a new water pump station to enable the decommissioning and removal of the existing pump station that sits over the spring marks further progress towards restoring the mana and spirit of the site, Chairman of Ngāti Rangiwewehi's Pekehaua Puna Reserve Trust, Louis Bidois, says.
“Removal of the existing pump station from the most culturally significant part of the waterway, the place where the taniwha Pekehaua resided, is a long-held dream of our iwi, something we have been working towards for decades.
“While our past grievances run deep, we have a partnership with the council that is built on mutual trust and respect and what is best for the community as a whole has always been a key factor in our decision-making,” Mr Bidois says.
“We are very pleased this project is progressing to this point and will continue to work closely with Rotorua Lakes Council.”
Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell has also acknowledged the significance of construction of a new pump station at Pekehaua Puna Reserve.
“The spring is of huge cultural significance to mana whenua and I’m pleased we are continuing to see progress.
“We are now working in a respectful and mutually beneficial way, under this partnership, where the two parties are ensuring the continued security of water supply to our community,” Mayor Tapsell says.
Spartan Construction Ltd was awarded the pump station project and will be working alongside Pattle Delamore Partners to complete the work.
Water will be drawn from the spring into the new pump station and will be put through treatment before being stored in two reservoirs used to supply potable water to nearby communities.
The site was blessed before work began with excavations marking the start of the construction of the new pump station. One of the biggest challenges during construction will be to prevent sediment reaching the stream while the new pump station is being built upstream of the pristine environment of the Te Puna o Pekehaua Reserve. Continuous monitoring will be undertaken to ensure water quality is not affected by the construction work.
No disruption to water supplies is anticipated.
The cultural significance of the site will be respected at all times and all going well, the new pump station should be in use by late June 2023.
Restoration of the reserve will follow.
Taniwha Springs/Te Waro Uri spring is of significant historic and cultural significance to Ngāti Rangiwewehi and regarded as precious taonga. It is the traditional home of the taniwha Pekehaua - a central figure of local traditions - and the place from where the tribe's life springs.
The Rotorua Borough Council of 1966 took land under the Public Works Act for waterworks, including the sacred Te Waro Uri spring (a major contributing spring to the larger Puna o Pekehāua (Taniwha Springs) and the Awahou Stream – a significant tributary to Lake Rotorua). In 2008, the Environment Court noted the severe cultural effects of the water take and required the Council to find an alternative water source.
Ngāti Rangiwewehi’s partnership with Rotorua Lakes Council followed the return in 2015 of ownership of Taniwha Springs/Te Waro Uri following an historic Council decision.
Ngati Rangiwewehi has always mourned the loss of the spring and regarded its taking as morally wrong. In the 2012 Ngati Rangiwewehi Settlement the Crown acknowledged that the taking of the land was felt by Ngati Rangiwewehi to be the greatest grievance they bear against the Crown.
Te Puna a Pekehaua partnership between Rotorua Lakes Council and Ngāti Rangiwewehi resulted in a joint resource consent for ongoing community water supply from Te Waro Uri. It is believed to be the first joint council/mana whenua consent of its kind.
Earlier this year the partnership was recognised with a Highly Commended award at the Local Government NZ Excellence Awards in the Environmental Wellbeing section.
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