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Te Rerenga Wairua safe and ready to go - Ngati Kuri

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tracks are cleared, facilities have been cleaned and Te Rerenga Wairua is safe for visitors (manuhiri).

Access to Te Rerenga Wairua will be free flowing from Friday 29 May following a small but significant ceremony to reaffirm Te Rerenga Wairua as a wāhi tapu (place of spiritual significance).

As the country considers its transition from covid response to recovery, Ngāti Kuri is taking the opportunity to reset the treasured wāhi tapu.

Ngāti Kuri Chair Harry Burkhardt says the iwi is looking forward to opening up access to a place that is respected by many.

"During these unprecedented times our land, our air and our seas have rested and recovered. Now is the opportune time to reset how our manuhiri, both local and international, engage with and behave in our special places."

"Staff and whanau have spent the past two weeks working alongside the Department of Conservation and Te Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to complete all the practical preparations so we can open Te Rerenga Wairua and its surrounds. It has been a fantastic display of unity and coordination. With finishing touches occurring this week we will be able to open the road and all public facilities and amenities this coming Friday," says Burkhardt.

While the limit to gathering numbers will have been increased by Friday, allowing for up to 100 people to congregate, in the interest of public safety there will only be a small powhiri and ceremony for iwi and partners that will commence at 12pm.

There will be an opportunity for people worldwide to share in the reopening ceremony via a short livestream and full delayed coverage of the event.

The opening will be marked with a whakamoemiti (blessing) followed by takahi hurahi (marking of the path), where a group of uri (descendants) will make the journey by foot to the cape.

Following these formal proceedings visitors are welcome to make their way to Te Rerenga Wairua on their own accord.

Burkhardt urges people to act responsibly and play it safe.

"In keeping with our kaupapa of maintaining kuia and kaumatua safety we ask that those who do make the journey to stick to the groups you come in, practise safe social distancing and utilise the hygiene stations that will be available. Come prepared for all weather conditions and we ask that any at risk whanau please stay home.

"Our iwi, alongside our iwi partners have been head down in the health and welfare response. As we emerged from covid response our focus quickly turned to preparing our place to host visitors again.

"It has been no small task ensuring this place is safe for people to access. The restricted access to Te Rerenga Wairua has been very much a practical response as a spiritual one. I am extremely proud of our staff, our whanau and our partners who have stayed focused on the task at hand.

"The support and understanding from people all over the world has been incredible. It is nice to know that most of the visitors that come understand the scaredness of this place." says Burkhardt.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency acknowledges the significance of Te Rerenga Wairua to Ngāti Kuri and all Maori and notes that the safety of its workers and customers is its priority and has approved a traffic management plan for the area.

Dame Naida Glavish fully supports such a recalibration of Te Rerenga Wairua.

"We have an obligation to reaffirm Te Rerenga Wairua as Wāhi Tapu through our cultural practices. I will be personally attending to tautoko (support)."

Far North Area Commander, Inspector Riki Whiu has been working with far north communities throughout covid and he says the the safety of all has been his focus.

"In every speech of farewell, the words haere ki Te Rerenga Wairua or similar would have been used. COVID 19 has placed severe restrictions on Maori to practice the full extent of tikanga. This is an opportunity for the iwi lay some of that rest and reset." says Whiu.

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