Status: For immediate release
Date: 12 December 2019
Subject: Ngāti Awa Rāhui
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Te Tapatoru a Toi Joint Management Committee request people to respect a rāhui (temporary ritual prohibition) placed over the tribe’s customary coastal boundaries as a result of the eruption at Whakaari / White Island.
The rāhui encompasses the Whakatāne, Ōhope and Ōhiwa coastlines, and Rurima, Moutohora and Te Puia ō Whakaari islands
Ngāti Awa rangatira Te Kei Merito says that while most Māori understand the purpose of a rāhui and naturally adhere to it, it is also important to convey the ethos of rāhui to the wider community so they might be more inclined to respect the prohibitive nature of the custom.
“There are a number of reasons to place a rāhui, and in this case the purpose is to acknowledge the fact that multiple people have already lost their lives as a result of the eruption. The application of rāhui in this instance is very much a sign of respect to those who lost their lives, and to their families;
“It is a very Māori – and in this case a very Ngāti Awa – way of expressing respect, sympathy and aroha in harrowing times such as these”
Neighbouring iwi, including Te Whakatōhea and Te Whānau a Apanui, have also placed rāhui over their customary coastal areas. This effectively represents a customary prohibition on all maritime activities for the whole of the Eastern Bay of Plenty coast. Mr Merito says he hopes the mana of the rāhui – and the iwi who have placed them – will be respected.
“We would like to acknowledge our fellow iwi of the Mataatua confederation that have joined us in our efforts to apply tikanga Māori to this devastating situation, out of respect and reverence to all who are hurting as a result of this catastrophic tragedy. We implore people to venerate our rāhui, out of respect for the victims.”
The rāhui will be temporarily lifted to accommodate the eventual recovery operation from Whakaari. It has been confirmed that a Ngāti Awa tohunga – most likely Mr Merito – will accompany the recovery team to the island to conduct the necessary cultural imperatives and provide spiritual support to the recovery team
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