Backing for highest heritage recognition "very likely"

By Mahina Hurkmans

Those still at the frontline at Ihumātao are "very likely" to support a proposal to see Ōtuataua Stonefields receive the highest level of heritage recognition.

Last weekend, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga invited submissions on a proposal to change the Ōtuataua Stonefields heritage listing to Category 1 and to enlarge the area of protection. 

With submissions set to close on 29 November, Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) have only a few weeks to decide on their course of action.

However, SOUL member Qiane Matata-Sipu says they will "very likely" make a submission.

"There are heritage experts, archaeologists, wāhi tapu experts, who have been feeding into the kōrero with us, as well as our own kaumātua, kuia, whānau members who have been feeding into the kōrero. So it's very likely that we will make a submission, what that will look like we still don't know. We do have time and so we are taking that time to ensure that the submission is right and it looks ahead for future generations.

"People are waiting to see what we do and, possibly, respond to that. So if anyone is wanting to make a submission and is waiting to see what our submission might say, we will send that out and post it up.

Matata-Sipu says they will get behind others making submissions too.

"We will probably do an action to encourage people to make a similar submission. We do know that there are other experts with different interests in caves and archaeology and those sorts of things who within their own organisations are looking to make submissions as well.

"I mean Ōtuataua, Ihumātao, this whole area is hugely significant and hugely important and I think this is something that I think many who have worked with Ihumātao for generations are now seeing an opportunity for them to be able to make a difference that way."