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Hāpū holds ‘only the shadow of the land’

 

Ngāti Korokī and other local hapū of Ngāti Raukawa are the most landless in the Manawatū to Porirua Waitangi Tribunal district, says distinguished kuia Gabrielle Rikihana.

Gabrielle, 97, a claimant for Ngāti Korokī, says the hapū of Ōtaki have suffered exceptional land loss, especially the three central hapū: Ngāti Pare, Ngāti Maiotaki and Ngāti Korokī.

“We have virtually no land of commercial value,” she says. “Alongside Ngāti Pareraukawa and Ngāti Hikitanga, we are the most landless hapū of the inquiry district. We hold only the shadow of the land.”

She was speaking before the tribunal during week 16 of hearings at Raukawa Marae, Ōtaki, held on June 4-7. It included claims affecting all five Ōtaki hapū such as rights relating to the Ōtaki River, a claim on the Crown’s Marine Parade beachfront land, papakāinga housing and the management of multiply owned Māori land.

“Ngāti Korokī are making the claim that government land reforms, local government laws, and a biased borough rating programme caused the hapū to lose their land, homes, and the control of the town they had created.”

Members of Ngāti Korikī at Raukawa Marae on the last day of recent Waitangi Tribunal hearings. Photo Whare Akuhata

Matiu Rikihana, Ngāti Korokī co-chair and claimant, says the government deliberately moved them from their tūrangawaewae, the home they had developed for themselves.

“Depriving us of our land and self-governance meant we lost huge portions of land, including Haruātai Park, Ōtaki Primary School, and Ōtaki College,” he says. “Many papakāinga along Mill Rd were also taken because of unaffordable rates.”

Ngāti Korokī claimant and co-chair Mishy Rikihana-Vieira says that before large numbers of Europeans arrived, the hāpū of Ōtaki governed themselves and were progressive, enterprising and industrious.

“We built our own town with Rangiātea Church, a school, boarding house, wharenui and flourmill created through our collective efforts,” she says. “We seek the return of our whenua and the ability to set up papakāinga.

“We have fought to maintain our mana Motuhake, but today mana whenua struggle to have land, homes or to even afford to rent in Ōtaki. We are claiming for the return of the former Ōtaki maternity hospital and surrounding land.”

Ngāti Korokī is the last of 25 hapū and iwi in Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga (covering Manawatū, Horowhenua and Kāpiti regions) to have its hearing. This process has taken four years, but the original Wai 113 claim was lodged 35 years ago.

 

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Hāpū holds ‘only the shadow of the land’

 
 
 

 
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