Ngāti Waewae unveil first pou at Kahurangi National Park

By Talisa Kupenga

Ngāti Waewae have unveiled the first pou whenua (boundary post) in the Kahurangi National Park. It recognises the largest ever addition of land to a national park as well as iwi mana whenua and guardianship status in the area.

Ngāti Waewae secondary carver Caleb Robinson says, "The larger of the two pou represent Tarapuhi, who is the eldest son of Tuhuru and who took over his father's mana of the West Coast and was paramount for the majority of the West Coast. The shorter of the pou represent Mata Nohi Nohi who ties our whakapapa together and brings all our different bloodlines on the West Coast together as one."

Lead carver Mahana Coulston (Ngāti Waewae, Ngāti Mahaki) says, "It took three months to carve the poupou and we've got another ten on the go after this."

In April, 64,400 hectares of conservation land covering the Mokihinui River catchment became part of Kahurangi National Park, increasing its size by 14 percent to 517,335 hectares.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says, "As a result of the addition of the Mokihinui riverbed and catchment, there would be a review of the Kahurangi management plan and close consultation with Ngāti Waewae and Ngāi Tahu, and looking at how customary rights and interests can be better reflected in the management of the park and in the plan."

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says, "I definitely think there needs to be changes to the national park plan. The whole community are talking about the changes that potentially might happen. So for the iwi the ability to be part of that process is very important."

In 2007 a hydro-electric dam was proposed for the Mokihinui River which would have flooded the gorge and significant habitats.

Minister Sage says, "There was a big public campaign to protect the awa and as a result of that Mokihinui. These lands have values of national park status, the highest protected status."

The area added to Kahurangi National Park is slightly larger than Christchurch. It makes it the second largest national park after Fiordland, which covers more than 1,230,000 hectares.