Kaitiaki onsite at Omanawa Falls this summer
Kaitiaki, also known as a guardian, will be on site at the Omanawa Falls to help care for this special place as well as support and advise any visitors.
They will be on site most days from Monday, December 21 2020, until April 2021.
“The Omanawa Falls area is in the rohe of Ngāti Hangarau and we are partnering directly on the care, design and development of this important cultural site,” says Mark Smith, Manager – Parks & Recreation, Tauranga City Council.
The Omanawa Falls are currently closed to the public for safety reasons and Council is working closely with Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism BOP to re-open the falls by constructing safe access with full consideration given to the historical, cultural and environmental significance of this site.
“The Kaitiaki are present at Omanawa Falls in their capacity as tangata whenua to protect this special place,” says Koro Nicholas from Ngāti Hangarau.
“We are there to look after the mauri of our rohe - our awa, our wairere, our whenua and our manuhiri. This is a mahi that we can proactively fulfill our role as Kaitiaki of our rohe and help all our manuhiri to understand why places like Omanawa falls are very special and that they need to be respected."
“We are committed to reopening the Omanawa Falls, but the falls and surrounds have significant ecological status, and the steep cliffs, which are unstable in parts, mean that creating safe access will be challenging,” says Mark.
To ensure people are aware of the dangers, the track closure is clearly signposted to visitors to deter visitors from the area while the site is closed and safety issues have not been resolved.
“We will continue with this education approach and the presence of the Kaitiaki is an important part of this,” says Mark.
Increasing community understanding of the cultural significance of the area will be another key benefit of development.
Features of the design will likely include a viewing platform and upgraded track as well as supporting infrastructure, including carparking and public toilets.
“Once access to the falls has been made safe, Ngāti Hangarau look forward to the opportunity to host all our manuhiri to the area and help to ensure that they will also rediscover the special nature of the mauri of Omanawa,” says Koro.
Council, Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism BOP continue to ask people not to visit the falls and highlight that there are a number of other fantastic falls in the Bay people can visit.