All iwi, hapū and whānau have a responsibility to look after the treasures that have been handed down through the generations. These include our language, our whakapapa and the whenua that we care for.
Here at Rangitāne o Wairarapa we take our role as kaitiaki very seriously. We are tasked with ensuring that our manawhenua, manamoana will be left in a great condition for our mokopuna to enjoy.
Resource Management Act
The Resource Management Act 1991 gave weight to our role as kaitiakitanga. It ensured that councils or developers would need to consult with tangata whenua before they carried out their activity and it directed Councils to consult tangata whenua in its decision making.
Iwi participation in Council planning has come a long way in the last two decades. Once upon a time iwi were treated as just an interested party in consent applications. Today we sit at the highest table alongside elected representatives rewriting the regulations that govern how we use these resources.
Rangitāne is represented on the Regional Council planning committee known as Te Upoko Taiao. The committee is responsible for writing the next version of the regional plans for freshwater, soil conservation, discharges to land and coastal plan.
We have also contributed to the Wairarapa Coastal Strategy, the Wairarapa Combined District Plan and several other planning policies and documents. We have representation on the Biodiversity and Significant landscape committees as well as several council led forums.
Over thirty years of research, investigation and collaboration has gone into developing a large knowledge base of sites significant to Rangitane. This knowledge is used to ultimately protect those very special places from damage, destruction or misadventure.
This knowledge is held by our kaumātua and is seldom divulged unless it needs protection.
Rangitāne o Wairarapa was one of the first iwi in the country to develop a computer mapping database to record waahi tapu sites.
Over this time we have built a strong relationship and reputation with landowners, farmers and developers and ensured the protection of a number of special sites.
In the Wairarapa water is a significant resource. We are blessed with a number of waterways, rivers and lakes. We have an overabundance of water that travels through the valley. Unfortunately that water tends to run low through summer and it takes a hammering through run-off, siltation and pollution on its way out to Palliser Bay.
Rangitāne has grave concerns about the degradation of water quality and is working with regional council, district councils and land-users to improve its condition.
Our iwi is also involved in the management of water. We have been fighting councils for two decades trying to persuade them not to discharge urban waste into our rivers and waterways. Our ultimate goal is for wastewater to be discharged to land.
Irrigation is another area that Rangitāne have an interest in. Currently there is not enough water in the system during the dry months for all users and this is putting an incredible strain on waterways and aquifers (underground reservoirs).
A well-managed irrigation system would help alleviate this pressure on our water resources. It also has potential to bring a lot more production to the land creating many new jobs for the region. But we would be cautious as this could also bring an increase in run-off, pesticides and herbicides.
If the irrigation scheme goes ahead it needs to ensure any negative impacts are countered.
Rangitāne o Wairarapa is working with DoC, Greater Wellington, South Wairarapa District and Kahungunu to bring our treasured lake back to its former glory and to improve water quality. There is an incredible amount of energy and participation amongst users and neighbours to do this. We have a 500 year plan to bring the Mauri of the lake back to where it used to be. We also have an interest in the return of the lake to iwi through the Treaty Process.