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Appointment of new Te Pou Tupua welcomed - David Parker

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Environment Minister David Parker and Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui chairperson Sheena Maru have welcomed the appointment of Keria Ponga and Turama Hawira as Te Pou Tupua.

In a joint statement Sheena Maru and David Parker said:

Today, Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui chairperson Sheena Maru Minister and Environment David Parker announced the appointments of Te Pou Tupua, the face and voice of Te Awa Tupua.

Since 2017, the Whanganui River has been recognised as a living and indivisible whole comprising of all its physical and metaphysical elements from the mountains to the sea, through the Te Awa Tupua Act.

Keria Ponga together with Turama Hawira have been appointed and will together perform the Te Pou Tupua role for the next three years.

Sheena Maru acknowledged the efforts of all who have contributed towards this effort under the COVID-19 situation.

"Today is a reminder to us all that at the heart of the Te Awa Tupua settlement framework is the legal recognition of the interconnectedness of the Whanganui River, its peoples, and its resources," she said.

"Whilst Ruruku Whakatupua remains a ground-breaking settlement legislation, there is much more work to be done to foster understanding to protect and enhance the health and wellbeing of the Te Awa Tupua and its indivisible whole incorporating its tributaries and all its physical and metaphysical elements from the mountains to the sea."

The appointments are made jointly by the iwi with interests in the Whanganui River and the Crown.

They symbolise both the partnership between Iwi and the Crown and the Crown’s ongoing responsibility to uphold Te Awa Tupua. These appointments support a strong future for the Whanganui River and its communities.

David Parker acknowledged Kahurangi Dame Tariana Turia for her contribution in the role of Te Pou Tupua since 2017.

"The depth of experience and knowledge that Dame Tariana has contributed has been invaluable in this inaugural term. Together with the iwi of Te Awa Tupua, I acknowledge her leadership and dedication to upholding Tupua te Kawa," he said.

Given Covid-19 and the need to protect our communities, the pāhake throughout Te Awa Tupua will conduct the necessary karakia as a dedication ceremony for the new term of Te Pou Tupua, and to mark the ceremonial uplifting of the role from the first term. A more formal hui will be held in person in 2022, when it is safe to do so.

Whanganui kaumatua John Niko Maihi said the iwi of Te Awa Tupua remain steadfast that our people are intrinsically connected to the health and wellbeing of the whole Awa, its mouri and its mana.

"It is with that in mind that we are assured that both shall perform the role of Te Pou Tupua given their knowledge and experience in both worlds," he said.

"Te Pou Tupua will assist in performing this important role and to uphold Tupua te Kawa, the innate values of Te Awa Tupua, on behalf of the Whanganui River."

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