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Iwi welcomes customary marine title decision

Te Tāhuna o Rangataua is a tidal estuary within 10 minutes’ drive from the Tauranga central business district. Photos: Scott Yeoman/Stuff.

The decision to grant five iwi and hapu customary marine title over a Tauranga estuary is being welcomed.

Te Tāhuna o Rangataua is a tidal estuary within 10 minutes’ drive from the Tauranga central business district, and is the easternmost arm of Tauranga Moana (Tauranga Harbour).

Justice Grant Powell wrote that there was “evidence of a deep and abiding connection” over several hundred years for the groups granted the title – legal recognition of their relationship with the area.

The application for customary marine title was brought under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011, which replaced the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.

Also known as the MACA, it provides a mechanism for the recognition of customary rights.

Seven applicant groups sought to be included in a single joint customary marine title encompassing Te Tāhuna o Rangataua, and five were successful. Read more here.

Justice Powell last week released a High Court judgement granting customary marine title to Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore, Ngāi Tukairangi, Ngāti Tapu, Ngāti Hē and Ngāti Pūkenga.

In a statement released to SunLive this week, Ngā Pōtiki says it is welcoming the decision.

In 2020, Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust established 'Nga Papaka a Rangataua' to bring together all hapu and iwi from around the inner Tauranga Harbour as a collective strategy to seek joint Customary Marine Title and Protected Customary Rights of Te Tāhuna o Rangataua under theMarine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.

“Throughout April and May 2021, Ngā Pōtiki presented evidence before the High Court establishing their respective mana ki te whenua, traditional histories and their historical and contemporary cultural practices in Te Tāhuna o Rangataua,” the statement reads.

Justice Powell released his decision to the application on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, granting CMT of Te Tāhuna o Rangataua to Ngā Pōtiki, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Hē, Ngāi Tukairangi and Ngāti Tapu.

The decision acknowledges each as kaitiaki of Te Tāhuna o Rangataua.

Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust chairperson Peter Stokes describes the decision as a positive step forward in protecting an area of significance for Ngā Pōtiki.

Ngā Pōtiki is centred upon Tamapāhore marae at Mangatawa and Tahuwhakatiki marae, both atthe eastern end of Te Tāhuna o Rangataua.

In 2012, Ngā Pōtiki was successful in getting the NewZealand Geographic Board to change the name of the estuary from Rangataua Bay to Te Tāhunao Rangataua, and an application to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga led to the whole of Te Tāhuna o Rangataua being recognised as a wāhi tapu.

Peter says there is still some work to be done to define areas of kaitiakitanga but there is no doubt the decision was a win for the people of Ngā Pōtiki.

“Once we get through the period of appeals, together we - Ngā Pōtiki, Ngāti Pūkenga, NgātiHē, Ngāi Tukairangi and Ngāti Tapu - can sit down together to survey the areas that we’ll be responsible for.”

Ngā Pōtiki’s application is part of a two-stage claim.

Stage 2, which includes Customary Marine Title and Protected Customary Rights of the area to seaward of Pāpāmoa and including adjacent islands, is now underway.

Ngā Pōtiki has completed their presentation of their evidence, with closing submissions being made at the end of this month.

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