Leonie Simpson to leave Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa to pursue business opportunity with Whānau

Leonie Simpson to leave Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa to pursue business opportunity with Whānau


After five years as Manahautū (Chief Executive) at Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Leonie Simpson has decided to step down from her role. Leonie is leaving to pursue a business opportunity in partnership with her husband Arekatera Maihi, at their company Toitu Design.

Toitu fuses Māori art with contemporary design including graphic art, whakairo and tā moko. The business has experienced a period of unprecedented growth in 2020 and 2021 and requires a leader with managerial experience.

During her time with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Leonie has helped Ngāti Awa to respond to a number of life changing events including the Edgecumbe floods of 2017, the Covid-19 pandemic and tragic eruption of Whakaari/White Island on 9 December 2019, with the loss of 22 lives.

“The last five years have been the most defining of my career and life. I have experienced no greater honour than to have been chosen to lead my Iwi and it has been a very humbling and fulfilling experience,” said Leonie.

Speaking about the eruption Leonie said:
“None of us that were present in Whakatāne when Whakaari erupted will ever forget that day. It is part of our personal and Iwi history now. Ngāti Awa responded immediately opening our Marae and comforting the whānau of the victims, and the Whakatāne community. We will never forget the people who lost their lives, their loved ones and those that were hurt. They remain in our thoughts.”

Leonie will leave Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa at the end of this month but will be on hand to provide a thorough handover to her successor. The Board has commenced the search to find a candidate of Leonie’s calibre and will make an announcement about this in due course.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with and been supported by past, present and future leaders of Ngāti Awa, including uncle Joe (Dr Joseph Mason) who passed away last week.”

“His absolute dedication to protecting and enhancing our Iwi rights, his humble leadership, and his unwavering commitment to Ngāti Awa are an inspiration to me. The legacy of uncle Joe and our many leaders means Ngāti Awa are well placed to shape our future, continue to protect the taiao (environment), and develop a workforce centred on our values and identity as Ngāti Awa. I am very grateful for the support I have received from the Iwi, hapū and whānau of Ngāti Awa. Ēhara taku toa i te toa takatahi ēngari he toa takatini e.”

Reflecting on her decision to step down, Leonie said:
“The time is right for me to hand over the reins and for a new leader to emerge. I am confident that my replacement will continue to build on our progress and will be supported by the dedicated team at the Rūnanga that I am very proud to have worked alongside.”
Leonie is looking forward to spending more time with her whānau, husband and daughter and the team at Toitu, “It is an exciting new chapter in our lives and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Tumuaki (Chairman) Joe Harawira said:
“The leadership shown by Leonie over the past five years has been exemplary. She has led the Iwi through a number of extremely challenging and sometimes contentious issues affecting Ngāti Awa during her tenure as Manahautu.

“I have appreciated her patience with me, whilst settling into the role of Tumuaki and I applaud and support Leonie’s decision to pursue further career options and to spend more time with her whānau.

“The challenge has been laid. Who will pick up the manuka, to continue the legacy that has been created through her wonderful leadership and guidance?

“Ma te atua koutou ko to whanau e manaaki e tiaki a nga tau kei te haere ake.”


For more information please contact Bianca Ruakere on 021 453 189 or email bianca@cloutcommunications.co.nz

Ngāti Awa wins right to appeal water bottling decision

Ngāti Awa wins right to appeal water bottling decision



Te Runanga o Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Awa) has won the right to appeal a High Court judgment dismissing its appeal from the Environment Court.


Ngāti Awa went to the Court of Appeal to seek the right to challenge that ruling.


The Environment Court majority’s decision was to grant Creswell New Zealand Limited (Creswell), the right to extract 1.1 billion cubic metres of water annually from the Otākiri aquifer, for water bottling.


Creswell is a subsidiary of Chinese soft drinks giant Ngonfu Spring, headquartered in Hangzhou, China. Otakiri is a small rural settlement a short distance from Whakatāne and within the Ngāti Awa rohe.


Ngāti Awa first opposed the Creswell proposal in 2018, concerned that the proposal would have irrevocable and negative effects on te mauri o te wai, that Ngāti Awa would not be able to carry out their roles as kaitiaki and that the proposal was inconsistent with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Leonie Simpson, Manahautū (CEO), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “This is an encouraging decision because we’ve won the right to be heard. He taonga te wai – water is an inherited treasure. Once it has been removed from our rohe our wai will never return. As kaitiaki and mana whenua we have a responsibility to act when decisions impact the natural resources within our rohe.


“Today is a step forward, but the fight is by no means over, and we shouldn’t have to do this as kaitiaki and tangata whenua of Aotearoa. We are really concerned about the continuing allocation of freshwater rights in our country. Successive governments have failed to address the issue, but the time is now right for it to do so as part of the freshwater policy review and RMA reforms.


“There is also the serious issue of pollution. We’ve just had evidence that the Bay of Plenty coastline is contaminated by millions of small plastic particles, which are then absorbed by kai moana and which people eat. Many of these particles come from plastic drink bottles. And if Creswell get the green light they could be producing up to 1,800 single use bottles per minute. If that’s allowed to proceed, central and local government authorities here would seriously need to look at themselves in the mirror.”


For more information please contact Bianca Ruakere on 021 453 189 or email: bianca@cloutcommunications.co.nz


Notes to Editors:
Ngāti Awa are the descendants of Te Tini o Toi, the original inhabitants of the Eastern Bay of Plenty region, and the people who arrived on the Mataatua waka. Today Ngāti Awa represent 22 hapū and have 19 marae. For more information please visit the website: https://www.ngatiawa.iwi.nz/

Ngāti Awa first opposed the Creswell proposal in 2018, concerned that the proposal would have irrevocable and negative effects on te mauri o te wai, that Ngāti Awa would not be able to carry out their roles as kaitiaki and that the proposal was inconsistent with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Water is an inherited treasure. Once it has been removed from our rohe our wai will never return.

Nongfu Spring is China’s largest supplier of packaged water and ranks as one of the top 20 beverage companies in China. They were founded in 1996 and are headquartered in Hangzhou, Zheijang Province, China. Creswell New Zealand Limited are a subsidiary of Nongfu Spring. The company website is: https://www.nongfuspring.com/

NGĀTI AWA MOURN THE PASSING OF DISTINGUISHED RANGATIRA OF THE IWI, DR. JOSEPH (HOHEPA) MASON.

NGĀTI AWA MOURN THE PASSING OF DISTINGUISHED RANGATIRA OF THE IWI, DR. JOSEPH (HOHEPA) MASON.


E tangi hotuhotu ana te iwi, i te matenga o tō tātau Kōroua, Pāpā, a Dr Joseph Hohepa Te Pepeha Mason, i te Ōturu o Takurua. Ka pūkatokato te Iwi o Ngāti Awa, otirā te motu whānui, nā te hinganga o te tōtara nui, o te poutokomanawa o Ngāti Pūkeko, i te wā hākerekere ko tenei.

The passing of Dr Mason is a devastating loss to Ngāti Awa. We mourn a dedicated and devoted servant to the survival and prosperity of the Iwi, whom for the greater part of seven decades has served his tribal and wider communities generously and faithfully. His efforts over the years have ensured the survival of critical anchor points, scaffolding the cultural landscape of the Iwi, for the benefit of current and future generations. 

Renowned as a holder of customary knowledge, Dr Mason was an active member of Te Kāhui Kaumātua, the principal advisory body for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa. He was highly regarded as a custodian of hapū whakapapa, waiata, and the history of Ngāti Awa.  

As the longest serving board member of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, a former Secretary, General Manager and Chairman of this entity and its predecessors, his customary knowledge and wisdom informed the Treaty settlement process for Ngāti Awa and preserved our cultural narratives and traditions in many forms, including our Settlement legislation. 

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, and Ngāti Awa are indebted to the legacy Dr Mason imparted and the integrity he led with. 

We extend our condolences to the whānau whom he is survived by, his wife Erina (Bunty), his son, Joseph, daughters Eneta and Waana, and his mokopuna.  

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa offices will be closed for the duration of the tangihanga, from Monday the 26th of July, to Wednesday the 28th of July. For any urgent inquiries, please contact runanga@ngatiawa.iwi.nz  

E te Rangatira, e te Pāpā, ka kore mātau, ko te mātinitini i te mata o te whenua, e warewaretia koe. Ka tirohia ki te Rangi, ki te huinga o ngā kahurangi, ki tō nohoanga i te poho o te Matua Nui i Rangi, ki reira tonu koe e tīaho mai ai ki tō Iwi e.

Karanga & Whaikōrero Wānanga Tuarua

Karanga & Whaikōrero Wānanga Tuarua

Learners and newcomers welcome!


Rā: Rāhoroi, 28 Ākuhata 2021
Wā: 8.30am – 4.30pm
Wāhi: Rangihouhiri Marae, 30b Thornton Road, Whakatāne

Our kaiako are highly knowledgeable and are willing to share their tips and more importantly provide a safe and friendly environment to practice your learnings. Register your details in the form provided below to learn more about this kaupapa.

Whakatūpato/Cautionary advice: Email us asap as a courtesy to the caterers and the organizers if something comes up and you cannot make it please. Those people who take the time to register will have priority over walk-ins to receive any resources that the pouaka may want to share.


Registrations close Rātapu, 19 Ākuhata 2021

Rēhitia ki kōnei: https://forms.gle/d6NUAXUgR7JiTHzW6


Ōpihi Whanaungakore – Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa presents argument to the Environment Court to hear appeals

Ōpihi Whanaungakore – Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa presents argument to the Environment Court to hear appeals


Yesterday, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa presented argument to the Environment Court against the Whakatāne District Council’s decision to grant consents to allow 77 Bunayn Road to be developed.

The first step was to argue that the Environment Court has the right to hear the appeals. The Applicant (MMS GP Limited) and the Whakatāne District Council argued that the Environment Court cannot hear Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa’s appeal (and the appeals by Ngai Taiwhakaea and the Ōpihi Whanaungakore trustees) due to a lack of jurisdiction. Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa argued that the Environment Court has the right to hear the full appeals.

We anticipate receiving the Judge’s decision within the next few months. We will post the decision on our website and Facebook pages when it is received.

Ngāti Awa files legal action to protect customary interests in the takutai moana

Ngāti Awa files legal action to protect customary interests in the takutai moana


Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa have filed proceedings in the Court of Appeal challenging certain factual findings of the High Court to grant customary marine title to the hapū of Te Whakatōhea which extends into the rohe of Ngāti Awa. 

The area that is being challenged is between a point in Ōhope that Ngāti Awa refer to as Toatoa to the mouth of the Ōhiwa Harbour.  The evidence of our Ngati Awa pūkenga, Tā Hirini Moko Mead, Dr Joe Mason and Dr Te Kei Merito is that the customary interests of Te Whakatōhea and Ngāti Awa converge at Ōhiwa Harbour, not Te Toatoa (or the point that Te Whakatōhea call Maraetōtara) in Ōhope. 

The contested area, and our appeal, is discrete but of significant importance to Ngāti Awa. 

Ngāti Awa otherwise celebrates the landmark decision of the High Court which has placed tikanga at the forefront of its interpretation of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 and also awarded customary marine title to Ngāti Awa, jointly with Te Whakatōhea, in Ōhiwa Harbour.

Ngā kōrero a ngā pakeke o Ngāti Awa II

NGĀ KŌRERO A NGĀ PAKEKE O NGĀTI AWA II


Our kaumatua hold a wealth of information, weaved into their life stories are examples of our Māori language, tikanga they witnessed and places of significance they tread. Maanu Paul, Tārihi Doris Himone, Te Arai Hana Tutua, Nuki Maxwell, Ngamihi Crapp, Himi Takotohiwi, Aporina Chapman and Whaiora Puutu share their stories.

We would also like to acknowledge Rochelle Rapana, Dr Agnes McFarland, Aorewa Creative for their time and expertise and Te Mātāwai who agreed to fund this kaupapa.

Their interviews can be viewed by booking an appointment with our Research & Archives branch 0800 464 284  


He nui ngā kōrero kei a mātau kuia, koroua; ngā reo Māori, ngā tikanga me ngā wāhi tapu i kitea, i rongoa e rātau. Me mihi ka tika ki a Maanu Paul, Tārihi Doris Himone, Te Arai Hana Tutua, Nuki Maxwell, Ngamihi Crapp, Himi Takotohiwi, Aporina Chapman, Whaiora Puutu mō a rātau kōrero, hei rauemi, hei taonga mā ngā uri whakaheke. 

Me te mihi anō ki a Rochelle Rapana, Tākuta Agnes McFarland, Aorewa Creative me Te Mātāwai, te pūtea tautoko.

Me he hiahia koe ka mataki i te roanga o a rātau kōrero, waea atu ki Te Roopu Whakarauemi Kōrero o Ngāti Awa, 0800 464 284

Karanga and Whaikōrero Wānanga

Karanga and Whaikōrero Wānanga


When: 22 May 8.30AM – 4.30PM
Where: Iramoko Marae, Matata (Ngāti Awa ki te Awa o te Atua)


Too few of our people are versed in the art of karanga and whaikōrero. E te whānau, send someone along to start the journey and learn the teachings. The kaiako are highly knowledgeable and are willing to share their tips and more importantly provide a safe and friendly environment to practice your learnings. Register your details in the form provided below to learn more about this kaupapa.

Rēhitia ki kōnei: https://forms.gle/Hz6Foc3E36FAxAms6