Proposal to return Panepane back to iwi
Western Bay of Plenty District Council today voted to progress a proposed return of ownership of the eastern end of Matakana Island to five local hapū.
Council inherited the 172 hectares of land, commonly known as Panepane Purakau, at no cost from the Tauranga Harbour Board under the Local Government Reform in 1989 and is now proposing that it be returned to its ancestral owners.
The proposed transfer agreement would see a seven hectare public reserve created to ensure public access to the foreshore is protected in perpetuity.
This means people will still be able to enjoy activities like fishing off the wharf, walking along the beach and using the recreational areas close to Panepane Purakau, such as water-skiing lanes.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Garry Webber says today’s decision at an open Council meeting, in which several of the Island’s hapū representatives were present, signals a strong vote of confidence from Elected Members in the proposed transfer of ownership.
Over the past five years, Council has worked alongside tangata whenua to explore a number of options for a proposed return of ownership of Panepane Purakau and Mayor Garry is confident the proposed agreement will achieve great outcomes for Council, tangata whenua and the wider community.
“Council received the land at no cost and has been a good steward of this whenua over the years, but we now have the chance to do the right thing and transfer the land back to the five hapū of Matakana Island.
“For tangata whenua, we are hopeful that the transfer goes a long way to mending the significant hurt the hapū faced when their land was taken by the Crown under the Public Works Act in 1923 and allows us to move forward together.”
The five hapū that connect to Matakana Island are part of Ngai te Rangi iwi and include Ngai Tuwhiwhia, Ngati Tauaiti, Te Ngare, Te Whānau a Tauwhao and Ngai Tamawhariua.
Ngai te Rangi Iwi kaumatua Hauata Palmer says it will be an historic day for the hapū of the island when the block of land is returned to hapū ownership as they have been negotiating with Council for around six years. He says there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
“We hope this is the time. The island community will create plans to make good use of the land for our children and grandchildren. This does not necessarily mean a fiscal return, but what will be best for future generations and best for the land.
“The concept of hapū ownership existed prior to European settlement so it is not a new phenomenon. It was a simple matter to create and register a hapū entity under existing legislation to accommodate the land transfer.”
A special public consultative process on the proposed return of ownership will now take place from today to midday Monday, August 31.
The public can provide their feedback via www.haveyoursay.westernbay.govt.nz/Panepane or written feedback at Council’s library and service centres.
Council will be holding community open days on the following dates:
• Opureora Marae, Matakana Island, Saturday, August 8 (10am-2pm)
• Omokoroa Boat Club, Saturday 15 August (10am-2pm)
• Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, Saturday 22 August (10am-2pm)
“We invite the public to find out more about what is being proposed and have their say on the matter,” says Mayor Garry.
“Ultimately, though, the decision rests with Council as Elected Members of the community.”
For more information, visit https://haveyoursay.westernbay.govt.nz/panepane