He taonga te wai – Water is an inherited treasure

Ngāti Awa Iwi and hapū leaders, kaumātua and rangatahi have united at the High Court in Rotorua today to fight a proposal by Creswell New Zealand Limited (Creswell), to extract 1.1 billion litres of water per year from the Awaiti Canal Aquifer in Otakiri for water bottling. Ngāti Awa is progressing this appeal through Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa.

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, and that Ngāti Awa would not be able to carry out their roles as kaitiaki for a resource once it has been removed. This argument was summed up by Ngāti Awa pukenga and former Rūnanga Chair Dr. Hohepa Mason when he described it as: “too much water, to be sold, too far away”.

Leonie Simpson, Manahautū (CEO), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “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.

“In relation to the Creswell proposal this amounts to excessive amounts of our taonga being exported offshore and the impact this has on te mauri o te wai and our ability to be kaitiaki.

“We are also concerned about the wider allocation of freshwater rights in Aotearoa. Many of these consents are historical and are being bought up by investors all over New Zealand, who are simply attracted by the very high profits they can make. Allocation just keeps moving without any qualitative assessment on whether this is an appropriate use of water.”

Joe Harawira, Tumuaki (Chairman), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “We are focused on developing projects and businesses that are sustainable and create long-term meaningful opportunities for our Ngāti Awa people. Creswell plans to take a vital, scarce and precious resource forever.

“The benefits of the water, and the vast majority of the profits, will be enjoyed overseas. We cannot stand by and allow this project to progress unimpeded to the denigration of te mauri o te wai and our role as kaitiaki.”

The Creswell proposal includes plans to develop a manufacturing plant on site in Otakiri with the capacity to produce 1,800 single use plastic bottles per minute. Much of the water is destined to be exported to China, where artisanal New Zealand spring water sells at a premium.

Ngāti Awa are also concerned about water quality within their rohe. Residents of Whakatāne drink water with an E rating, the lowest acceptable level for human consumption in New Zealand, while residents living in Murupara and Kawerau also suffer from a poor-quality drinking water[1]

Ngāti Awa are determined that the views of New Zealanders who are overwhelmingly opposed to water bottling for bulk exports are not ignored. They have recently called upon the Whakatāne District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to back an initiative supporting a moratorium on applications to take water for bulk export and for councils to take a more holistic view of the potential effects of the current industry.

“Successive governments have failed to address the very real issue of water rights in Aotearoa. It is only fair that government work with Iwi and hapū as partners to address the issues of water quality, allocation and broader issues that impact our environment. In a country impacted by severe drought and water shortages it is nothing short of negligent to give this taonga away.

“To allow this project to progress will be a terrible mistake and not lead to positive outcomes for our mokopuna (future generations).” added Leonie Simpson.


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Bianca Ruakere: 021 453189

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/

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. For more information please visit the website: https://www.nongfuspring.com

[1] Source: ESR/Drinking Water for New Zealand: https://www.drinkingwater.esr.cri.nz/

First Iwi-led Predator Free 2050 project gets go ahead

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa has welcomed the announcement and funding of its Korehāhā Whakahau predator eradication project.

Funding was confirmed today by the Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae in Whākatane.

The $5.6 million-dollar project will be led and delivered by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa. Initial funders include Predator Free 2050 Limited, providing $2.4m through the Provincial Growth Fund, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings and Department of Conservation.

The project will benefit from $2.5 million announced today from the Department of Conservation’s Jobs for Nature programme, which will also support other, yet-to-be announced Ngāti Awa taiao projects.

Korehaha Whakahau initial aim is to get rid of predators, starting with possums, across a 4,700ha area covering Whakatāne and Ōhōpe, benefitting biodiversity and boosting regional development and tourism. Exact boundaries are still being determined at this early stage of the project.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manahautū, Leonie Simpson, says the project will connect Ngāti Awa people with the taiao, support kaitiakitanga amongst the Iwi and help them to reach their aspirations to care for and restore the taiao.

“This project is our first Iwi workforce development initiative post COVID-19. We will develop a group of kaimahi with transferable skills that not only support their whānau but also enable kaitiakitanga for our hapū and Ngāti Awa now and into the future.

“Our relationships with the taiao will continue beyond the project term and we are aiming for long term outcomes that are intergenerational.”

Ed Chignell Predator Free 2050 Limited Chief Executive says they are excited by the opportunity for new learning as Ngāti Awa brings its knowledge and connections to the Predator Free 2050 kaupapa.

“We will be sharing the latest trapping and detection methodologies to enable the project team to permanently remove possums from the project area and build their capacity in predator control operations.”

The Korehāhā Whakahau project covers both private, public and Ngāti Awa owned land. The funding will enable Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa to employ more people and continue to engage with other landowners to get the operational side of the project underway.

Leonie Simpson says Korehāhā Whakahau is an important part of a kete of mahi that Te Runanga o Ngāti Awa is developing post Whakaari and Covid 19. 

“Our suite of projects, which we have called POUA, encompasses existing and future projects like Kāinga (a new visitor hub at the Whakatāne Army Hall), a new commercial boat harbour led by a Ngāti Awa Lands Trust, riverside revitalisation and other taiao projects. POUA represents, Pou whenua (foundation posts) which signify our commitment to our rohe, our people and our future.

New POUA projects will be announced in the coming months as they are approved.”

Korehāhā Whakahau is the first iwi led ‘path finder’ project to receive Predator Free 2050 Limited funding.

For more information contact:

Michal Akurangi, Taiao Manager at Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, michal@ngatiawa.iwi.nz

Tim Higham, Predator Free 2050 Limited Communication and Business Support Manager, timh@pf2050.co.nz

For more information about Predator Free 2050 Limited and its current projects see www.pf2050.co.nz.

Iwi and Council successfully attract funding for major Whakatāne Regeneration projects


13 March 2020

Iwi and Council successfully attract funding for major Whakatāne Regeneration projects

Te Rāhui Lands Trust, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Whakatāne District Council are excited to announce their successful applications to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Minister Shane Jones announced today that a contribution of more than $36 million will be made towards three significant projects with wide-reaching benefits for the Whakatāne District.

The development of a new boat harbour, the revitalisation of the town centre and riverfront and the transformation of the Whakatāne Army Hall will go ahead as part of a suite of joint applications under the Whakatāne Regeneration Programme.

The Government’s Provincial Growth Fund has committed a  total of $19.6 million to the boat harbour development, $9.6m to the Riverfront Revitalisation project and $7.6 million to Kāinga, (home, village, residence) the transformation of the Whakatāne Army Hall into a vibrant destination for local, national and international visitors.

Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited (NAGHL) Chair Paul Quinn says the community is still recovering from the impact of the Whakaari tragedy and so this announcement is gratefully welcomed.

“This is an important opportunity for NAGHL to work with the Trust and the Council as we find ways to contribute, lift productivity and participate in the regional economy together,” he says.

Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner agrees, saying the collaboration represents a defining moment for the region and signals an incredible opportunity for economic development and  transformational uplift across the whole District.

“The benefits of both projects to local business and the community are huge. This is about working in partnership and identifying ways we can realise our long-term aspirations for our people,” says Mayor Turner.

“Whakatāne is home to two of the three largest aluminium boat builders in the country. The investment in a new boat harbour will allow us to deliver the fit-for-purpose infrastructure to drive more growth and employment in the marine and tourism sectors.”

“Transforming the town and riverfront areas will increase private sector investment and create a vibrant town centre for our community to enjoy, as well as supporting Whakatāne on the journey to become a world-class small-town destination for tourists,” she says.

It is estimated that through these two projects a total of 930 jobs could be created by 2050 with at least 450 of those roles operational in the next decade.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chair Joe Harawira says the Kāinga project will provide a physical ‘heart’ to the Whakatāne town centre and complement the riverside regeneration aspirations.

“Kāinga will promote and celebrate our unique heritage, culture and stories. This new destination will support iwi, wider community, recreational and commercial activities and create a gathering place for manuhiri (visitors) and locals.”

Te Rāhui Lands Trust Chair Brian Simpson says the Trust will play a lead role in the boat harbour development.

“This is a historical moment for us as we undertake this work in partnership to realise our collective goals,” says Mr Simpson.

“For us, it’s about taking a balanced approach. As kaitiaki we will ensure that the mauri of our whenua and the river will be enhanced by the project while also creating a development that will provide a sustainable solution for the marine sector.  The project will deliver intergenerational outcomes for our owners, hapū and the wider Whakatāne community.”

This announcement secures funding to key catalytic infrastructure projects that are seen as essential to unlocking the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s economic future, says Mayor Judy.

 “It’s an exciting time for the whole Eastern Bay. We are delighted at the opportunity to co-invest with Central Government to accelerate these investment opportunities and the benefits they will bring to our region,” she says.

The project partners look forward to engaging the wider community and seeking specific feedback that will go towards shaping the Whakatāne Regeneration projects within the scope of the funding programme.


Editor notes:

Benefits from boat harbour and riverfront revitalisation projects by numbers:

  • More than 450 jobs by 2030 (direct and indirect)
  • More than 930 new jobs by 2050 (direct and indirect)
  • More than $80m local GDP growth per annum
  • Opportunity to attract $100m private investment in CBD
  • $111m additional GDP contribution by 2050

Hon Shane Jones PGF Funding Announcement

Hon Shane Jones Minister for Regional Economic Development
13 March 2020   Strictly embargoed until 9.40am

Whakatāne to get $36.8m PGF boost
The Government is investing $36.8 million into waterfront and visitor projects that will help transform Whakatāne and the wider eastern Bay of Plenty region, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. The investment in three projects, through the Provincial Growth Fund and the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, will help build the local economy, create hundreds of jobs, attract future investment and unlock tourism and cultural and commercial opportunities across the district. The investment will support the development of a new commercial boat harbour, revitalisation of the riverfront and town centre, and the development of a new visitor hub and cultural centre. “These projects are part of the Whakatāne Regeneration Programme jointly developed by Whakatāne District Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa to boost their marine and tourism sectors,” Shane Jones said. I’m particularly pleased to make this announcement of Government support for this town and region following the recent Whaakari/White Island tragedy. We back our regions in times of need.” The Boat Harbour Development project will receive a $19.6m PGF investment made up of an equity stake loan and grant. The Whakatāne Riverfront Revitalisation project will receive a $9.6m loan and the Ngāti Awa Kāinga project will receive a $7.6m investment via a Crown equity stake in the development. “ The harbour development will give commercial users in Whakatāne better facilities that will increase the economic returns of the wharf as a critical asset for the local community.“ To be situated on a 10.9ha block of Māori freehold land, it will address the need for more berths and offer better protection from the dynamic river environment,” Shane Jones said.“ The Riverfront Revitalisation programme is a vital part of the overall regeneration programme that seeks to establish a world-class, small town destination. It includes a significant upgrade to the riverfront promenade and the remediation and improved accessibility of the existing town wharf.“ The Kāinga project will see the Whakatāne Army Hall transformed into a visitor hub that will be the focal point for cultural and historical storytelling, retail, and a space for training, meetings and civic events.“ I’m confident these developments will create a sense of vibrancy and optimism in the community, create 453 new direct and indirect jobs by 2030 and provide permanent benefits for the town and the region,” Shane Jones said. Notes to editors: Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Some funding may depend on completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa High Court Appeal – Creswell

Status: For immediate release

Date: 17 January 2020


After careful consideration since receiving the Environment Court’s decision on 10 December 2019, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa has today lodged an appeal in the High Court against the Environment Court’s majority decision to allow Creswell NZ Limited to take extract 1.1 billion litres of water per annum for water bottling from the Awaiti aquifer. This aquifer is in the rohe of Ngāti Awa.  

Environment Court appeal and decision

In 2018, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa lodged an appeal in the Environment Court opposing the consents granted to Creswell NZ Ltd to extract 1.1 billion litres of water per annum for water bottling.   An appeal hearing was held in May 2019. Our evidence and legal submissions were heard by the Environment Court at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae, Whakatāne.

In the week of the Whakaari eruption, on 10 December 2019 we received the Environment Court’s decision on our appeal against the decision to grant Creswell consent to take water for the purpose of bottling and export.  The majority of the Environment Court confirmed the Regional Council’s decision (and therefore Creswell’s application) to take water for the purpose of bottling and export, and dismissed our appeal in part.   One of the three Commissioners recommended Creswell’s consent be declined.

High Court Appeal

As a result of our on-going concerns, and after careful consideration of the Environment Court’s decision, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa has lodged an appeal in the High Court.  Appeals to the High Court from decisions of the Environment Court are restricted to points of law.

Leonie Simpson, Manahautū (CEO) Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says “We are extremely concerned about the effects on te mauri o te wai, and the ability of Ngāti Awa to exercise kaitiakitanga due to Creswell’s proposed activities. As kaitiaki and tangata whenua we must be included in decisions about our taonga and on issues that affect us in our rohe”.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa also remains focused on caring for our manuhiri, their families, friends and our staff through the Whakaari tradgedy. 

Our communications priority for this High Court appeal is to keep Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Representatives and hapū updated on progress, and we will not be making any further comment at this time.


For enquiries please contact:

Leonie Simpson

Manahautū (CEO) Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa


Tours to Moutohorā: Island Sanctuary

Status: For immediate release

Date: 16 January 2020

Subject: Tours to Moutohorā: Island Sanctuary

White Island Tours Limited has recommenced tours to Moutohorā Island for the first time since the Whakaari/White Island eruption on 9 December 2019.

CEO Tracey Hook says that whilst this is a positive step forward in terms of providing certainty and employment for staff, the recommencement of tours will be a sombre and emotional occasion.

White Island Tours has carried out tours to Moutohorā for a number of years.

‘Tourism is an important contributor for our local economy and our staff are eager to get back to work,’ says Tracey.

No prohibitions had been placed on Moutohorā following the eruption, but the tour had been temporarily ceased out of respect for the victims, staff and affected families. 

Moutohorā Island is jointly managed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Te Papa Atawhai through Te Tapatoru a Toi and is a designated Wildlife Management Reserve.

Moutohorā is a pest-free oasis that is home to a number of New Zealand’s rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles.  The tour includes a journey through the regenerated native bush before stopping at the island’s secluded hot water beach. 

‘This is an important milestone for not just our staff but also the broader Whakatāne community,’ says Tracey.

‘We thank everyone locally, nationally and internationally for their support. Our hearts and prayers remain firmly with the families who were and continue to be affected by this tragedy.’


For media enquiries please contact:

Diane Berghan


021 221 5332

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Clarifies Position On Ōwairaka Issue

Status: For immediate release

Date: 10 January 2020

Subject: Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Clarifies Position On Ōwairaka Issue

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa wishes to clarify its position on the protests at Ōwairaka to clear up any confusion around our involvement in the matter.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa is the mandated representative iwi entity for Ngāti Awa established under our Settlement Act 2005 to receive and administer our Treaty of Waitangi Settlement with the Crown.

Our Settlement with the Crown was led by Ngāti Awa kaumātua and endorsed by iwi members of Ngāti Awa by postal ballot in 2004/2005.

As per our legislation, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa represents the twenty-two (22) hapū of Ngāti Awa who elect a hapū representative to Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa every three years.

Further, our legislation sets out that Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa acts for and on behalf of ngā uri o ngā hapū o Ngāti Awa, being the members of Ngāti Awa in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. 

The Ngāti Awa area of interest as set out in our Settlement legislation is from Waihi Estuary near Maketu in the West to Ōhiwa in the East and inland towards Rotoiti, Tarawera, and Taneatua.

Iwi members of Ngāti Awa can freely express their opinions and perspectives as they choose, however, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa confirms that our authorised spokespersons are the Chair Dr Hohepa Mason and Manahautū (CEO) Leonie Simpson.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa supports tangata whenua to make the best decisions for their taonga, lands and waters in their rohe, and we are open to discussions with appropriate iwi entities on this matter.

Consequently, we will not be making any further public comment on Ōwairaka at this time.




Ngāti Awa Claims Settlement Act 2005

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Act 2005

Kōtahi marama ki muri – One month after Whakaari

Status: For immediate release

Date: 9 January 2020

Subject: Kōtahi marama ki muri – One month after Whakaari 

Waipuke ana te rere o roimata o Ngāti Awa, otirā ngā iwi o Mataatua, i ngā mate ohorere i Whakaari.

E tangi ana mātau ko ngā whānau o ō mātau uri, ko ngā whānau o ngā manuhiri o te rohe.

Ka tuku te marumaru, ngā roimata, me te awhi.

E inoi hoki ana kia whakarauora rātau i taotū i tēnei pāmamaetanga, me te inoi anō kia hoki mai te tokorua kua ngaro tonu.

E mihi ana a Ngāti Awa ki a rātau ngā toa i whakamōrea kia whakahoki ngā mōrehu, ngā mate hoki, i a Whakaari ki ngā ringa o ō rātau whānau.

One month has passed since the Whakaari tragedy, a day that will linger long in the memory of our iwi, our community and especially the friends and families of those who perished as a result of the calamity.

We continue to grieve with those who lost loved ones. Although there is little that can soothe such unfathomable pain, it is with heartfelt aroha and compassion we offer you our shelter, our tears and our embrace.

Our thoughts also remain with those who were injured so terribly in the eruption and pray that their wounds – both physical and emotional – will heal swiftly and completely, in the hope they will eventually return to the lives they enjoyed before the tragedy.

Ngāti Awa also wish to thank those who selflessly exhausted their time, resource and energy into the emergency response and recovery. From those who placed themselves at great risk to recover both the living and the deceased from Whakaari back into the arms of their whānau, to the medical professionals who worked around the clock saving lives and providing comfort to the injured, and to the countless agencies and individuals who stood in solidarity with Ngāti Awa and the wider Whakatāne community as we rallied to support the impacted and their families.

We remain focussed on the wellbeing of our manuhiri, our staff and especially the bereaved families, who continue to display immense strength and courage at this time despite being crippled with the debilitating hopelessness of loss.

Mā te Atua me te waahi ngaro tātau e tiaki e manaaki i ngā wā katoa.


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

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