Umupuia iwi calls for rāhui to be upheld

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Mana whenua from Umupuia Marae in Maraetai are furious at the recurring number of people who drive vehicles on the shoreline causing damage to shellfish beds.

Zaelene Maxwell-Butler (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki) posted to social media about the most recent incident on Monday night, accompanied by a picture of multiple vehicles on the shore, one of them clearly sunk into the sand.

“I was surprised with how viral it went, I was merely trying to reach out to a population of people that frequent our space here at our beach. I just got sick of it.

“I have been to see our local police about the poaching but never before have I spoken to them about the people driving out here but I will be because I would like to seek understanding about what we can do about this," says Maxwell-Butler.

Despite a rāhui being placed on the area more than a decade ago, local Laurie Beamish (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki) says it continues to be ignored.  

“They see this as a place where they can drive on the beach, they drive out onto the mudflats without any understanding and then they sink into the mud, they damage our beach, they damage our kaimoana.

“It is an issue. We do like people to have easy access to but we don’t like the place being abused," says Beamish.

Along with the rāhui, only two beaches in Auckland can be driven on according to the council - Muriwai and Kariotahi. The only exceptions to these are when a boat is being launched or retrieved or in emergency situations.

Maxwell-Butler says that while the rāhui breaches need attention, it's the protection of the moana that is one of the main priorities for mana whenua. She also explains that the tuangi play a key role in that preservation. 

“If we lose those tuangi, the beach turns to mud. The job of the tuangi is to filter the sediment, that's their mahi."

Mana whenua say they will actively report any further drivers causing damage to their shoreline to authorities.