Infamous track on Te Mata Peak exposes racism

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Ngāti Kahungunu iwi and hapū members have been subject to racism following their support for the removal of the highly contentious Craggy Range track on Te Mata Peak, but Ngāti Kahungunu Chair Ngahiwi Tomoana says there has been a shift in public opinion, with strong support now to have it removed.

“When the Pākehā carved the track on Rongokako, things got quite heated between the Māori and the Pākehā community,” says Tomoana.

Ngāti Kahungunu opposed the track that had been cut on their ancestral mountain Rongokako, but, in doing so, received an outpouring of public backlash and vocal remarks of racism.

“Due to their ignorance at that time, racist and difficult comments were made every day towards Māori families and tribal members. They were yelling at us and shouting at us,” he says.

The contentious track was built in 2017 by the Craggy Range winery after being granted consent by the Hastings District Council, who later acknowledged it should have consulted with iwi and the public.

“We, of Ngāti Kahungunu, understand the cultural significance of that place, but for all Māori, Pākehā, Chinese, and everyone who comes to visit, they need to understand the cultural significance of that place as well,” he says.

Tomoana says there has been a shift in perspective through educational discussions with iwi on the matter.

“Through the facilitation of in-depth discussions, people are more enlightened and aware of our perspective and reasons behind the position of Ngāti Kahungunu,” he says.

Hastings District Council have since applied for resource consent to remove and restore the landscape.