Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust (Te Mana) and Tūhourangi Tribal Authority (Tūhourangi) were pleased to welcome the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Hon Andrew Little and Minister of Conservation Hon Eugenie Sage, on a tour of Waimangu Volcanic Valley and neighbouring lands on Thursday 5 September.
The visit was also an opportunity for representatives from the two iwi and the Crown to discuss the cultural significance of the lands, how to maintain conservation values of the lands, and to strengthen relationships between one another.
The Ministers’ visit follows the signing of a Deed of Undertaking between Ngāti Rangitihi and Tūhourangi in July, which enabled both iwi to jointly commence negotiations with the Crown for the return of the lands at Waimangu and Otūkapuarangi.
Te Mana Chair Leith Comer says this significant visit is another step forward for both iwi amidst ongoing negotiations with the Crown.
“We welcome this unique opportunity to work collaboratively – the Crown, Tūhourangi and Te Mana,” says Mr Comer.
“Sharing the cultural significance of whenua with the Ministers on site is an important part of building strong relationships between our two iwi and the Crown. We were pleased to be able to host Minister Little and Minister Sage on our whenua, so that they could see first-hand our commitment to maintaining the conservation values at Waimangu.”
Mr Comer says the visit presented an opportunity to discuss the maintenance of conservation values at Te Ariki and Ruawahia, the challenges both iwi encounter in sustaining those values over the Tarawera Estate, as well as the cultural significance of Tapahoro to Ngāti Rangitihi and the challenges it has with the camping ground there.
“All in all, the discussions were productive, and we look forward to working with the Crown on these matters,” says Mr Comer.
Tūhourangi Chair Alan Skipwith says both iwi are committed to developing the cultural, economic and environmental values of their whenua, and leading the way in sustainable environmental tourism.
“We have shown through our strong partnership at Waimangu Volcanic Valley that we are good kaitiaki of the land. We are looking forward to extending this to other areas of cultural significance to us, so that future generations can reconnect with their tribal lands,” says Mr Skipwith.
L-R: Front row – Te Mana Chair Leith Comer, Minister Hon Andrew Little, Minister Hon Eugenie Sage. Back row: Tūhourangi Chair Alan Skipwith, Ngāti Rangitihi settlement negotiator Kenneth Raureti.
- In 2017, Ngāti Rangitihi and Tūhourangi jointly purchased Waimangu Volcanic Valley Limited, an eco-tourism experience south of Rotorua which includes sightseeing tours looking at the unique ecology, rare botany and fascinating geothermal features of the valley including steaming volcanic crater lakes.