Northland marae's concern for wāhi tapu

By Kelvin McDonald
(Credit: Ngāti Kahu Te Iwi/Facebook)

A Northland marae concerned about the desecration of its wāhi tapu has erected signs at two nearby beaches calling on motor vehicles to stay out of the area. 

Haititai Marangai Marae in Karikari Peninsula has raised concerns about "the continued desecration of our wāhi tapu (sacred areas), archaeological sites and dune vegetation" and asked for respect and support for a kaupapa to ban motor vehicles from the sand dunes at Tokerau Beach and Puwheke.

The pānui was issued by marae hapū Te Whānau Moana and Te Rorohuri and shared by Ngāti Kahu iwi.

(Credit: Ngāti Kahu Te Iwi/Facebook)

The marae says signs alerting the local community to the request will be erected at key points and it's their hope that people will respect the kaupapa.

Marae spokesperson Thompson Lawrence says the marae has been concerned about the increasing number of vehicles using the area.

"At the end of the day, the numbers have just got steadier and steadier."

He says concerns were raised about a month ago and at a hui last week the marae decided it was time to "jump up and do something about it". 

Lawrence says after Māori in Ahipara took a similar stand, the marae noticed vehicles that got "kicked out of Ahipara" heading to their area.

He says vehicles are mainly a problem at the weekends and that some have even been coming from as far afield as Kerikeri.

"Even if you get a dozen vehicles that's a hell of a lot," he says.

Lawrence says the signs the marae has put up are the first stage and they will have to consider their options after that.

"If it doesn't work we will man the entrances to the sand dunes but it may not come to that."

The marae has kaitiaki monitoring the situation. Lawrence says he spoke to one person who lives about half a kilometre from the Tokerau Beach sand dunes who said the problem was especially bad over Easter weekend and far worse than a normal weekend.

"It was hell up there this weekend. There were four-wheel drives and a hell of a lot more bikes," he says the kaitiaki told him.

"They were blasting around all weekend. Roaring over the weekend like V8 trucks."

Lawrence says they will keep an eye on the situation but won't hesitate to take action if that's necessary. 

"At the end of the day, we're pretty sure it will work," he says.

"We'll see how it goes over the next couple of weeks. If it doesn't work, I'll take a couple of guys and be more proactive and bring it to a head." 

The action by the marae follows similar moves at Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē (Ninety Mile Beach) to limit vehicular traffic to help restore toheroa to the area.

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