Te Kawerau ā Maki, in partnership with Auckland Council and a member of the original settler Bethells family, have finally acquired ancestral land at Te Henga/Bethells Beach in the Waitākere Ranges for the building of a new marae and ‘kāinga whakahirahira’ or settlement of significance.
Te Kawerau ā Maki have been without a formal marae and papakāinga since the mid-20th century when their last remaining lands at Waiti (Te Henga) were alienated. The hunt for suitable land for a Te Kawerau marae goes back to the early 1990s, and negotiations over its transfer to the iwi go back to 2007 when the former Waitākere City Council acquired the land for this purpose.
"The securing of land at Te Henga for a new kāinga whakahirahira marks a significant milestone for the future of the iwi and a return to our ancestral papakāinga”, says Te Kawerau ā Maki Chair Te Warena Taua.
“This is the culmination of years of work by our kaumātua and kuia, who we acknowledge today.”
Te Kawerau Iwi Holdings director Edward Ashby notes the building of the new marae and papakāinga within the tribe’s heartland is crucial to the social and cultural renaissance of the iwi.
“We see the re-establishment of our marae and kāinga here as a project of the greatest cultural significance.
"We have continued to do our duty as custodians of our ancestral whenua in Hikurangi/Waitākere including in fighting forest collapse and kauri dieback, and this development provides a linchpin and tūrangawaewae for our people.
"The design of our eco-marae will form part of wider aspirations to uplift the mana and mauri of the iwi and the Waitākere Ranges, and to embracing the Te Henga and west coast community.”
Ashby says initial steps included former Waitākere City Council led by Mayor Sir Bob Harvey securing the land for marae purposes, its zoning as Māori Purpose Zone in the Auckland Unitary Plan in 2016, and Auckland Council resolving to transfer the land in 2018 led by the then west Auckland councillors Penny Hulse, Linda Cooper and Ross Clow as well as Waitākere Ranges Local Board.
“Acquisition of the title now allows us to move in earnest towards refining our design, preparing to seek resource consent, and to begin fundraising for the build.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomes the transfer of land.
“I acknowledge the long journey to reach this milestone event, and also look to the future,” he says.
“Te Kawerau ā Maki will now be able to re-establish a marae, and we hope that this transfer of land will signify a closer bond between Auckland Council and the iwi.”
Auckland Council CEO Jim Stabback agrees. “After years of commitment from many people, both from Te Kawerau ā Maki and in local government, the signing of this agreement was a hugely significant moment,” he says.
About Te Kawerau ā Maki
Te Kawerau ā Maki is an Auckland-based iwi that reached a Treaty settlement (historic redress) with the Crown on 22 February 2014.