Ngāti Awa Rāhui on Whakatāne River

Status: For immediate release

Date: 7 January 2020

Subject: Ngāti Awa Rāhui on Whakatāne River

Heke tonu atu ngā roimata o Ngāti Awa me Mataatua i ngā mate ohorere o te wā. E tangi ana mātau ko ngā whānau o ō mātau uri, ko ngā whānau o ngā manuhiri o te rohe.

Ngāti Awa tōhunga (spiritual leaders) and kaumātua have placed a rāhui (temporary ritual prohibition) over the Whakatāne river as a result of a drowning near the river mouth this afternoon.

Ngāti Awa kaumātua attended the scene with the deceased, the whānau pani (bereaved family), and the rāhui karakia (prayers) were held at 5pm today.

To respect the rāhui, people are asked not to gather seafood, catch fish, and undertake water activities in the Whakatāne river from Turuturu Roimata (Statue Rock near river mouth) to Taneatua until the rāhui is lifted at 5am, Friday 10 January.

Ngāti Awa tōhunga and kaumātua ask that the two-day rāhui is respected to acknowledge the tragic event, the deceased and the whānau pani.

Before undertaking activities on the Whakatāne River during the rāhui, Ngāti Awa tōhunga and kaumātua ask that people reflect on the absolute tragedy of losing a loved one so suddenly, the suffering of the whānau pani at this very difficult time, and the length of the rāhui.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the whānau pani who are left grieving and heartbroken as a result of this afternoon’s tragic events.

Ngā manaakitanga o te waahi ngaro ki runga i a tātau katoa i tēnei wā pouri.

For further information:
William Stewart
Mauriora Marketing and PR Ltd
(021) 220 8015

Ngāti Awa Rāhui Lifted

Status: For immediate release

Date: 28 December 2019

Subject: Ngāti Awa Rāhui Lifted

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa advises that the Ngāti Awa rāhui (temporary ritual prohibition) that has been in place since the Whakaari eruption was lifted at 1pm today (28 December 2019).

Following discussions this morning between senior Ngāti Awa kaumatua and cultural experts, the appropriate karakia (prayers) were performed by Ngāti Awa tohunga at 1pm today, lifting the rāhui he placed in the late afternoon following the Whakaari eruption.

Consequently, temporary prohibitions on marine activities undertaken within the Ngāti Awa rohe moana (customary coastal territory) – including fishing and the gathering of seafood – have now been removed.

The Ngāti Awa rohe moana encompasses the Whakatāne, Ōhope and Ōhiwa coastlines, and Rurima, Moutohorā and Te Puia ō Whakaari islands.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa acknowledges residents, visitors and the general public for their respect and support of the rāhui following the eruption of Whakaari.


For media enquiries please contact:

William Stewart
Mauriora Marketing and PR Ltd
(021) 220 8015

PM pays tribute to Ngāti Awa

Status: For immediate release

Date: 13 December 2019

Subject: PM pays tribute to Ngāti Awa 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged Ngāti Awa for their role as tangata whenua (people of the land) in leading and caring for affected whānau (family members), following the Whakaari / White Island eruption and recovery operation earlier today.

Ngāti Awa kaumātua (elder) Joe Harawira says it is the responsibility and privilege as tangata whenua (people of the land), to support the families and our guests during this difficult time.

“Protocols determine our behaviour as a people and one of those is to show absolute respect to affected whānau (families).  This is a time for us to come together and wrap around all of those who have been affected by this tragedy.”

Ngāti Awa kaumātua led a visit to Whakaari / White Island for family members of those who remained on the island, accompanied by members of NZ Police, the NZ Defence Force and Australian High Commission before the recovery operation officially started.

Twenty-eight passengers, including some family members of those remaining on the island and four crew members, gathered for karakia (prayer) on the wharf before heading out just at 4.30am this morning.

As the group made their way out towards the island, the NZ Police launch ‘Deodar’ acknowledged family members by flashing their lights, before escorting them towards the island.

Once positioned, at a safe distance off the coast of Whakaari, further karakia were offered and family members were given an opportunity to say a few words.  After some quiet reflection time together, the group made its way back.

“This was about providing an opportunity for family to acknowledge their loved ones and share in their grief,” says Joe.

The recovery operation is ongoing and Ngāti Awa remain closely involved to ensure all related activity is consistent with ngā tikanga o Ngāti Awa (the customs of Ngāti Awa).


For media enquiries please contact:

Diane Berghan 021 221 5332