30 September 2020




Ka hura, ka hura te ara moana                                                          Reveal the path before me

o taku waka                                                                                         Pipitaiari clear the pathway ahead

Ko koe e Pipitaiari, kei te awa                                                               Hold me aloft

o taku waka                                                                                            the mighty currents!

Amohia ake au i te au nui, au roa, au whakatiketike!                        Shelter me from

Awhitia ake au i te ngaru nui, ngaru                                                  The treacherous tides!

roa, ngaru whakahingahinga!                                                            Overcome! Overcome!

Oi eke, oi eke!                                                                                    Arise, arise

Marewa, marewa                                                                              Raise me to the calm waters,

Marewa ki ngā wai tokitoki                                                              To the gentle caress of the winds

Ki ngā hau kōhengihengi                                                                 So that you and I may flourish

Kia puta rā tāua                                                                              in the tranquil pools of serenity!

ki te āio mōwai rokiroki!                                                                  We come together

Haumi e! Hui e! Tāiki e!                                                                   in the spirit of unity!

                                                                                                       Let it be so!


Ko ō tātou mate o te wā, haere, haere, okioki atu.

Ko te rangi ki te rangi.  Ko te whenua, ki te whenua.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā rangatira o Rongowhakaata,

tēna ra tātou katoa.

The 'Ko Rongowhakaata' Iwi Exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa was tasked to represent the culmination and breadth of Rongowhakaata history and whakaaro on a National platform.  The exhibition grew the mana and integrity of the iwi, it is essential to reciprocate this integrity as the taonga prepares to come home.  The exhibition is scheduled to close October 2021.

Rongowhakaata must once again mobilise, gather, and fulfil our commitment to the mauri identified as an uncompromised expression of our mana and our kōrero.  This mauri was to be linked to the internal processes of the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust, and could be argued as still to be fully articulated and realised.

he first of our taonga are being called home to their respective whanau Thursday 1st October, 11am at Whakatō Marae.  We will be marking this moment befitting the manner in which they left us.  They will be called onto Whakatō Marae accompanied by Te Papa Board Members, placed on the mahau for karakia, addressed, and gratefully returned to their whanau.  Ongoing relationships between Rongowhakaata and Te Papa will be reaffirmed. 

All individuals, whanau, hapu of Rongowhakaata Iwi are called to reaffirm the esoteric and temporal cultural heritage of our forebears, marking the complete journey of the first of our taonga to be returned.  It is also an opportunity to consider what is required of our taonga now.

He karanga hoki ki ngā kaihaka o te iwi.  Help us receive the taonga and manuhiri with Haka Powhiri.



Kaikaranga / Kaikorero / Kaihaka to gather prior to this time.


Pōwhiri to our returning taonga who will be accompanied by Te Papa Board & Representatives


2 x Potae Pīngao

submitted by Drina Hawea

1 x Whāriki - Miriana Pohatu

submitted by Judith Ngarangione

1 x Potae Pīngao - Mere Nepia

submitted by Lena Peka

1 x Potae Pīngao - Matepe Ratapu

submitted by Maureen Ratapu

1 x Kakahu - Bebe Ria

submitted by Kay Ria

Wāhanga ki te Iwi:

What are our learnings?  What are our next steps?

Wāhanga ki ngā Poari:

High Level Agreement




Te Papa Board & RIT Board Hui




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18 September 2020

Executive Assistant (0.5FTE)

Do you pride yourself on being able to anticipate what people need before they ask for it? Are you extremely organised with great time management and people skills?  Are you passionate about Maori and more specifically Rongowhakaata culture, and being part of an organisation that is committed to ensuring our people, our place and our histories are available for future generations? And, are you confident in following up with people to ensure actions are completed efficiently? Sounds like you? Well keep reading!

We are seeking a part-time Executive Assistant to work approximately 20 hours per week supporting the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust Board and Trust Chairperson.

The successful candidate will have:

  • Minimum 3 years’ previous experience working as an Executive Assistant
  • Demonstrated excellence in both oral and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of tikanga and Te Reo Maori
  • Proficient in using Microsoft 365  
  • Initiative and the ability to anticipate what is needed next  
  • Strong interpersonal and relationship skills
  • Great organisation skills and time management – it is extremely important that you can produce accurate reports and minutes quickly and within specific timeframes
  • An eye for detail, punctuation, and grammar
  • Tertiary Qualification in business administration or similar related experience
  • Whakapapa to Rongowhakaata iwi (desired not essential)
  • Previous experience working for Iwi (desired not essential)
  • Previous experience in policy analyst, legal and/or risk management (desired not essential)

This role plays an integral role in the efficiency of workflow within the organisation and the right candidate will be someone who works accurately and efficiently. 

If this position sounds like you, or you would like to know more please apply online.  Applications must be submitted online via seek.co.nz and will be managed on behalf of Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust by People Plus Limited. If you have any questions regarding the role please email amin@peopleplus.co.nz



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Review of the Deed of Trust for the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust

15 September 2020

Review of the Deed of Trust for the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust

Information for whānau on the outcomes of the engagement process

Earlier this year the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust (RIT) provided you with information on the review of the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust (RST) Deed and invited you to make submissions by the end of June. 

The RST Deed is a legal document that empowers the RIT to hold and manage the Treaty of Waitangi post-settlement assets on behalf of Rongowhakaata. RIT was also established as a charitable trust by another legal document – the RIT Deed. The elected trustees of RIT, therefore, have strategic oversight of both the RIT and RST in accordance with these two separate Trust Deeds. While there are some differences between the two Trust Deeds, the overall provisions are similar (for example, the appointment, responsibilities, powers and liabilities of the trustees). 

The existence of two separate Trust Deeds has created some confusion and additional effort and cost, so RIT also sought legal advice on the possibility of moving to one Trust Deed, post this review. This pānui summarises the outcomes of the engagement process and legal advice.

Submissions and proposed response

RIT received five requests for copies of the Trust Deeds and four submissions. The essence of the submissions and proposed response to these is outlined below.


Proposed response

Te Kāhui Kaumātua requested that they would like to open the membership of Te Kāhui Kaumātua to any Rongowhakaata kaumātua who wishes to be involved, and were concerned with the specific reference entitling each Marae to appoint two members.

The appointment provision in the RST Deed will be removed and will refer to the appointment clauses in the RIT Deed.  Clause 6.1 of the RIT Deed refers to each Marae being entitled to appoint two kaumātua but it doesn’t restrict membership to just Marae appointees or to a specific number of members, thereby (and in effect) opening up the membership to any kaumātua who wishes to be involved and who meets the appointment criteria. 

The Te Kāhui Kaumātua provision in the RST Deed should be the same as in the RIT Deed.

Trustees should be ‘obliged’ to be accountable to the people that appointed them.

The RST Deed will reflect or refer to the appropriate reporting requirements in the RIT Deed. These requirements are mandatory and mean that trustees must provide an opportunity for members of Rongowhakaata to consider its perfomance and are required to keep marae informed on a regular basis. RIT considers that these requirements/obligations sufficiently meet the concern raised by this submission. 

There is a need to clarify who the spokespeople are for the hapū.

RIT considers that this is a significant matter that requires appropriate action and time to work through. RIT have agreed to deal with this outside of this particular review, bearing in mind that it could have implications for future Trust Deed reviews.

Legal advice on the Trust Deeds moving forward 

There are key issues with merging the two Trust Deeds. One issue is the merging of a charitable entity with a non-charitable entity and the potential implications of that. The other issue is that there are rights under the Rongowhakaata Claims Settlement Act 2012 that apply only to the RST, therefore it would be very difficult to transfer those rights to the RIT, without amending the legislation itself. As such, moving to one Trust Deed would be extremely difficult in these circumstances. 

The two Trust Deeds, however, can be streamlined. Based on the recommendations of our lawyer Spencer Webster, RIT have elected to amend the RST Deed so that it contains its specific provisions and reflects or refers to the RIT Deed for those provisions common to both Trust Deeds. 

Amending the RST Deed in this way would simplify governance, reduce duplication and inconsistency and provide greater clarity on the accountabilities and obligations of Trustees. This was the main reason for exploring the possibility of moving to one Trust Deed in the first place. 

Next steps

The proposed amendments to the RST Deed (outlined above) will be notified by RIT in late October and you will have almost a month to consider and vote on a special resolution to amend the RST Deed. 

A hui on the special resolution to amend the RST Deed will take place in November, at which time the voting will close.

For any enquiries on the review of the RST Deed please contact the RIT office by email: trust@rongowhakaata.iwi.nz or phone: 06 862 8086.

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28 August 2020


Starting at 12pm with a Premiere Presentation right here on our Facebook page, followed by a Live Webinar with the creators of the new logo.
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21 August 2020


E te whānau. Due to COVID restrictions we will be moving our Brand launch ONLINE on SATURDAY the 29th AUGUST.

                          Details to come soon.




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18 August 2020

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Manutuke School are keeping their town bus children isolated together at school today.

Hauora Tairāwhiti Medical Officer of Health, Dr Oz advises that there is no need for alarm. The school made the decision after a parent at the bus stop mentioned that their children had contact with a contact of a person who has COVID 19.

Dr Oz says that the two children from Manutuke School are not contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19. They are contacts of a contact of a contact!
There is no risk to other whānau; no need for precautionary measures.

It is normal that all contacts of a confirmed case are followed up, and this is being done in Auckland. 

Should the contact test positive, there is still no risk to the Manutuke school students as they are not close contacts of this person (they are still contacts of a contact). 

Confused? Don't be. Just relax, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick!.

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust Turanganui-Ā-Kiwa



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4 August 2020


10AM - 12PM


  • Mihimihi/Whakatau

  • Karakia

  • Presentation from  GDC Staff on the history  of and proposal for the Model Endeavour's  (30 minutes)

  • Rongowhakaata Hui a Iwi (6 June 2020) Position Statement on the Model Endeavour's

  • Rongowhakaata Hapu, Marae and Individual iwi members views on the Model Endeavour's

  • Rongowhakaata  Hui a Iwi (9 August 2020) Position Statement

  • Agreed approach to engaging with the GDC on this matter

  • General Business

  • Karakia whakamutunga.

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4 August 2020


  • The Toitu Tairawhiti Summit was held at the Emerald hotel on July 22nd and 23rd.


  • Guest speakers included Iwi and industry leaders, BHC Laura Clarke, Hon. Shane Jones, John Tamihere, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, Dr. Ganesh Nana and Hon. Eugenie Sage.


  • Iwi leaders presented the Covid-19 recovery plan including the Rau Tipu Rau Ora strategy, the Marae funding framework, Ako Tairāwhiti programs and the Te Papatipu o Horouta recovery plan.



  • Rongowhakaata along with Te Papa ran a program dedicated to Matariki from July 13th to 20th.


  • There was a karakia by Papa Jeffrey Pohatu, a waiata by Tū te Manawa Maurea and a kōrero on Hāmokorau by Tiopira Rauna.


  • The highlight was a live-streamed  solo performance by Ngapaki Moetara called Oho Mata Ariki



  • Last years production 'All Roads Lead to Ngātapa' was a hit and so we sourced funding to keep it going.


  • A casting call was put out to the world and we received many applications from far and wide.


  • There were two successful applicants and we are now in the creation process for the next iteration. Watch this space!


09th AUGUST - Hui-a-Iwi - Level 3 Ngā Wai e Rua

21st AUGUST - The RIT Board Hui

28th AUGUST - Rongowhakaata Brand Launch

- Ohako Marae

- Registrations open soon


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31 July 2020

Tihei Matariki ora!

Ko Tipuanuku, ko Tipuarangi, ko Waiti, ko Waitā, Ko Ururangi, ko Waipunaarangi, ko Hiwa i te Rangi, ko Pohutukawa!  E tangi tonu ana te ngakau o te whatumanawa kia rātou kua wheturangitia ki te kainga e puna iti nei, i te puna roimata. Haere, haere, haere atu rā! 

Kia hiwa rā! Kia hiwa rā! Kia hiwa rā ki tēnā tuku!  Kia hiwa rā ki tērā tuku!  Kia oho, kia mataara, kia hīhiri, kia manawanui!  

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā Matariki kia tātou katoa. 

A week-long celebration of Matariki at Te Papa Tongarewa has seen Rongowhakaata uri lead the country in karakia, story-telling, and art exploration.  This is while COVID 19 still has it’s grip on the world, and the protocols that saw our ancestors listen and act on the tohu and guidance of the natural world is needed now more than ever.

The week began with Rongowhakaata Pou Tikanga - Taharakau Stewart & April Nepia Su'a, alongside Te Ati Awa Kaumatua Kura Moeahu, and Ngati Toa Kaumatua Taku Parai, leading a moving dawn karakia heralding Matariki, while paying special tribute to the many who passed away during the year, including two Pou o te Ao Maori and Te Papa, Hema Te Mara and Piri Sciascia, It was pleasing to have representatives of their whanau participate in this national dawn tribute.   The ceremony took on new significance as it was screened live and on-line, using Te Papa Tongarewa's platform, to potentiate the karakia and enable all whanau who had lost loved ones over the lockdown period of COVID  to share in this mass demonstration of grief, reflection and new beginnings.    The country was guided through these unchartered processes with assuredness and class by our very own Matai Smith.  The Te Papa based ceremony was complemented by a Ringatū karakia led by Jeffery Pohatu and waiata by Tū Te Manawa Maurea broadcast on-line, from Manutuke.

The following evening Oho Mata Ariki - a devised, solo, verbatim theatre piece, debuted with a live performance that was live streamed and enjoyed by a diverse on-line audience from across the country. Performed powerfully by Ngapaki Moetara and directed by Teina Moetara, Oho Mata Ariki was performed on the mahau of Te Hau ki Turanga, with a support cast comprising members of the Rongowhakaata ki Poneke taura here.  The performance gives artful expression to the diverse views and perspectives of Rongowhakaata uri on the restoration and future location of Te Hau ki Turanga. These views were canvased through interviews conducted with kaumatua, artists, restoration project leads , RIT Board members and management.


On Wednesday the 15th of July, a video of Uncle Pare Tureia sharing his earliest memories of cooking with his Manutuke nannies, in his kitchen, went viral.  Recipes of paraoa koroua, chicken and vegetable crock pot stew, with kumara and pumpkin sourced from the Jones whanau mara kai, a cake with passionfruit and tamarillo sauce, were a few of the many examples of the cooking with flair ‘trade secrets, that he learned from his aunties and nannies, which he shared across the internet.  Uncle Pare spoke about the relationship between sourcing kai from our own mara and kapata kai, cooking simply with a couple of staple ingredients, and the piece de resistance being the  cooks individual  twist, these  along with the memories invoked by each and every dish, are the quintessential secret to Manutuke cooking.  This video sat alongside a Matariki promotional video featuring the Stewart whanau, spending quality family time, fire-side by the Waipaoa river-mouth, on a chilly but stunningly beautiful Turanga evening.   A strong message of celebration, of reconnecting and bonding as whanau, hapu, and iwi, of bountiful harvest, of resilience and preservation of tikanga and traditions, of  remembering those who passed, of a taiao in a state of recovery and  renewal and  the energy that generates for our own regeneration. We are grateful for all that Matariki represents and most particularly for the time to reflect and reset our compass. 

Uncle Pare 72R3


Hāmokorau | The Temple of a Hundred Spirits provided another platform to showcase the rich,  deep and broad Toi tradition that we come of. Rongowhakaata carver Tiopira Rauna led a conversation on Hamokorau,  presenting his personal perspective and position through showing a fantastic lineage of Identity (Tuakiritanga).  He described Hāmokorau, the ancient Whare pungawerewere as, "The Temple of a Hundred Spirits", the source-code for many carvers including tohunga whakairo Raharuhi Rukupo.  Much of this korero was new, provocative and enlightening to a captivated audience. The celebrations led into the weekend with Toi Tuku Iho, a platform showcasing a group of up and coming local Mana Whenua artists alongside, Rongowhakaata artists,  Tanith Wilson – carver, Lewis Whaitiri and David Jones – weavers.  These three artists kept their audiences transfixed with their innovative and visionary  Toi approach and their adept skills and passion for the arts, for our traditions and their ability to share those stories.



Te Reo o te Kainga –featured Waven & Te Hurutea Hapi, Raiha Moetara and Ahi-Rana Amai, who artfully shared their performing  talents, captivating audiences with their sweet voices emanating out from Te Hau ki Turanga.  Their performances were both spiritually and physically uplifting for the multitude of visitors at Te Papa during this period.  Phagan Ria ably assisted the Te Papa Public Programming team,  with hospitality support throughout  the week.  


Our Matariki week in Manutuke and at Te Papa provides Rongowhakaata and Te Papa with an opportunity to grow and enhance our capacity and capability to collaborate in genuine and meaningful ways that result in benefits for both parties and the audiences we are able to share. The week also provided a wonderful and opportunity for Rongowhakaata artists, taura here and whanau to come together, learn from each other and celebrate our unique contribution to Aotearoa’s 2020 acknowledgement of Matariki. 

 Matariki 20 16 72 R


Matariki 20 1872R

IMAGES PROVIDED BY TE PAPA. https://www.tepapa.govt.nz    

*June 2020 Uncle Pare at home, Gisborne. Photo by Norm Heke,

**July 2020 / Te Papa. Photo by Jo Moore/Te Papa,


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25 July 2020

Over hundreds of years of continuous habitation and interaction, Rongowhakaata have formed a relationship with Te Wherowhero Lagoon.

From the time of the Horouta waka, Hinehakirirangi and her party navigated a passage through Wherowhero Lagoon to the Karaua stream, passing Puketapu maunga heading to Manawaru where the first kumara in Te Tairawhiti were successfully planted.

The lagoon is located to the north of Te Kuri and runs along the eastern coast where it meets the Waipaoa River.

The lagoon is an area where both Rongowhakaata and Ngai Tamanuhiri iwi have mana whenua and mana moana.

It is open to the sea at its southern end and is partly estuarine (fresh water from the land meets and mixes with saltwater from the sea).

Estuaries are one of the most productive ecosystems on the earth and are especially rich in animal life.

Te Wherowhero is our taonga.

The natural state of the lagoon has been altered over time as a result of human activities.

Human-induced modification of the land and waterways has resulted in habitat degradation, both of the land and sea.

The land surrounding Te Wherowhero Lagoon has been highly modified as a result of an intensive cattle-grazing regime over the last 160 years, which has severely impacted upon the water quality of the lagoon and its neighbouring coastal environment.

Farmland has encroached into many parts, natural vegetation has been removed, and parts of the lagoon have been used to dump rubbish.

Despite the adverse effects, Te Wherowhero Lagoon still has high biodiversity and ecosystem services for Rongowhakaata, Ngai Tamanuhiri and the wider community.

The lagoon is a nationally recognised wetland/estuarine lagoon, 160-hectares in size.

It is a kainga that provides feeding and habitat for over 34 species of coastal waders and shore birds. These include:

• Kuaka (bar-tailed godwit). Kuaka arrive at Te Wherowhero every year in September after an eight or nine day flight from Alaska.

• Ngutu Parore (wrybill). These small endemic birds migrate from the South Island braided rivers annually to winter at Te Wherowhero.

• Tuturiwhatu (NZ dotterel). Te Wherowhero is an important breeding habitat for this highly threatened species, they nest every year around August and September.

One of the biggest threats tuturiwhatu face at Te Wherowhero is human disturbance.

Off-road vehicles and careless feet destroy their nests on the beach.

Uncontrolled dogs running through the nesting areas can crush eggs, disturb nesting adults, and kill chicks.

Respecting Te Wherowhero as a home to our taonga species is something the kaitiaki cherish.

For Rongowhakaata, Te Wherowhero is a primary source of sustenance.

It is a garden, a seamless extension of land-based cultivation.

It is home to many types of flora and fauna and an important kapata kai (food basket) for the hapu of Rongowhakaata and Ngai Tamanuhiri.

It has had its share of destruction, but resilience will ensure it flourishes for the next generation.

SOURCE FROM: The Gisborne Herald te-wherowhero-a-cherished-taonga

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22 July 2020

Communications Manager

Are you an excellent communicator in Te Reo Māori and English with a proven track record in internal and external communications management? Are you passionate about Maori and more specifically Rongowhakaata culture and being part of an organisation that is committed to ensuring our people, our place and our histories are available for future generations? More so, do you fit the above description and want to work for an organisation that operates a High Trust Model allowing you to have flexibility and own your role.  Then we are looking for you!  

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust is seeking a Communications Manager to take care of all their internal and external communications. This is an integral role to the organisation and has 2 permanent direct reports and varying responsibility for contractors. You will need to be ambitious and determined to achieve our strategic priorities, think, be agile and innovative, and ensure that all communications to various stakeholder groups are consistent with our values and outcomes.

The successful candidate will have:

  • Minimum of 10 years’ experience in a Communications role, or experience at management level in a role requiring judgement, communication and relationship management skills.
  • Demonstrated experience leading a communications marketing or public relations function
  • Demonstrated excellence in both oral and written language, skills in Te Reo Maori and English
  • Knowledge of Rongowhakaata tribal structures, relationships, history and processes.  
  • A tertiary qualification in communications and / or public relations
  • Knowledge of tikanga
  • Initiative and the ability to think on your feet
  • Previous experience working for Iwi (desired not essential)
  • Strong stakeholder management skills
  • Whakapapa to Rongowhakaata iwi (desired not essential)
  • Proven team management experience

If this position sounds like you, or you would like to know more please apply online.  Applications must be submitted online via seek.co.nz and will be managed on behalf of Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust by People Plus Limited. If you have any questions regarding the role please contact Jenny at jenny@peopleplus.co.nz or on 027 551 5142.

50261711 SEEK LINK


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4 July 2020

Over the last few months we have seen and experienced many significant changes, to our enviroment and to our way of living. Covid-19 has and will continue for some time yet to have a huge impact on people here in Aotearoa and across the globe. While COVID-19 posed and continues to pose a major risk to the health and wellbeing of people, it has by comparrison enabled the planet to ‘literally and figuratively breath, to replenish itself without being buffeted by the relentless exploitative habits and pursuits of humankind. Planet Earth was given some much needed time to relenish itself and the flora and fauna it is home to. Animals were free to wander the planet, free for a brief period of time, from the predatory behaviours of humankind. This return to the way it once was, gave us all the necessary ‘wake-up’ call to ask ourselves why this brief respite should not be our new norm. We all cheered when we saw sateliite images of continents and landmasses that we had given up on ever seeing again, because our cities and airways and become choked up by smog. 

During covid people enjoyed taking walks along Waikanae stream and seeing and enjoying the litterless terrain  and In the evening observing the increase in the number and types of birdlife along the stream, which seemed to have returned to roost in environs that seemed safer with less humans. Our Taiao thrived during the significant reduction in the number of people frequenting these natural habitats. While these moments were joyous they were sadly short lived. 

As the country moved to Alert Level 2, there were two seperate whale strandings within a two week period Rongowhakata Iwi Trust were approached by DOC management to provide cultural leadership on both ocassions, in how we would attempt to safe the whales and sadly, as it transpired  how we would lay these amazing mamals to rest, with dignity and respect for them and eco-system that became their final resting place.

Rongowhakaata   would personally like to thank the locals who came to  assist with the rescue of the whales and their efforts to save them. We would also like to thank the Department of Conservation, and especially Malcom Smith  and Jamie Quirk who shared their  knowledge about pygymy sperm whales and the circumstances and conditions that drive them to beach themselves .

The first stranding and fatality occureed on May 26th involving a  mother and calf . We were told the mother whale was 40 years old and she was less than half the size that she should have been, the calf was about 9 months and would still have been suckling and solely dependant on a very undernourished mother.

The  second stranding involved another female pygymy sperm whale who was at the time in calf. The DoC officers said that it was very unusual for these whales to be beached in this particular area.

Soraya Pohatu and Samuel Lewis, the two RIT staff involved were both deeply impacted by these two incidents, being part of the two rescue operations and then overseeing the burial process of these majestic mammal. 

These two incidents highlighted our lack of understanding  and knowledge of what  is truely happening in our Moana and on our planet. It reminds us that notwithstanding our best efforts it all seems too little, too late, we are still not doing enough.We thank those who took part in Karakia to honour and farewell ‘ nga tamariki o Tangaroa’, who came ashore, for whatever reason, to live out their final moments. 

There is a  tohu (sign)  for us in these two whale strandings, a reminder to us all of the fraility of life and how little we truly know of what is happening to and in our world , that forces some of life’s most glorious creatures to take such extreme and fatal actions  or is this just another natural phenomenon in the ‘Circle of Life’. 

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3 July 2020

On March 20, 2020 Te Papa Tongarewa, which houses the ‘Ko Rongowhakaata’ exhibition, closed its doors to the public due to the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. In a press statement, Te Papa Chair Dame Fran Wilde said “We’ve made this decision after careful consideration. We are not able to enforce social distancing within the museum, and we want to protect our community and support the efforts of all of New Zealand to reduce the risk of Covid-19". Te Papa Kaihautū Dr. Arapata Hakiwai also added that “The wellbeing of our community must be the number one focus, and closing our doors temporarily is the best way we can tautoko the efforts across Aotearoa, and across the world.” This was a cautious decision that would bring about unprecedented change.  


Upon closing the museum, Rongowhakaata Pou Tikanga Taharākau Stewart and April Nepia-Su'a were tasked with conducting a karakia that would allow our taonga to rest safely during the lockdown period.  This was done with a small group of staff members before closing the museum to the wider public. And so, the 'Ko Rongowhakaata exhibition, including our whare whakairo Te Hau ki Tūranga, Rongomaraeroa and other iwi taonga were put to sleep. 


In the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown, museums around the world, including Te Papa, were faced with the reality of adapting to their new circumstances. In an interview with 'the Spinoff', Te Papa Tumu Whakarae Courtney Johnston indicated that “The language of the last 10 years has been about return on investment and that’s usually in terms of numbers through the door, hotel nights – your economic benefit. If return on investment can look more like partnership and shared outcomes, then the investment that’s going on at the moment becomes about making everything and everyone better". As iwi in residence, this gave Rongowhakaata a unique opportunity to help shape Te Papa's post-Covid future. 


In April, the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust and Te Papa sought to create a unique and innovative working relationship that would change the way the museum world interacted with its source communities. Fruitful Zoom discussions turned into the development of a new digital wānanga program that would center around the Rongowhakaata Treaty of Waitangi story. From May 5th to 13th Rongowhakaata facilitated live discussions around present-day Treaty issues in Aotearoa and established a series of short films that depicted tipuna who were instrumental in the environmental, artistic and economic prosperity of Rongowhakaata in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa. The Treaty settlement process and the contemporary issues Rongowhakaata face today were also explored. With bold language and beautiful visuals, the program was deemed a huge success attracting hundreds of people from different backgrounds to the series, which produced a robust discussion around the Treaty and its relevance today. In addition, statistics from Te Papa's social media and digital platforms saw an increase in engagement from demographics that typically did not interact with museum content, thereby proving the value of Rongowhakaata's innovative storytelling approach. 


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In addition, the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust are also in preliminary discussions around digitalising the 'Ko Rongowhakaata' exhibition in order to conserve the memory of the exhibition itself and also to create digital copies of taonga that will eventually be repatriated to their respective owners across the world. This has also inspired a movement around the protection and conservation of taonga and the intellectual property they hold. Moreover, the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust is investing in new digital technologies that would help establish an innovative platform that allows whānau to directy connect with taonga. In a recent statement, Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust General Manager Amohaere Houkamau said that "Rongowhakaata are looking at conducting online virtual exhibitions of our taonga that are housed all around the globe. Thereby assisting Rongowhakaata to reconnect with our taonga irrespective of distance and therein rebuild our knowledge of the Matauranga inherent in all our taonga." This will allow the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust to pave the way in taonga digital development. 


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As Te Papa prepared to move into lockdown level 2, Rongowhakaata was able to guide them in their endeavours to establish a Covid-19 tikanga strategy around managing public access to taonga. On May 28th, during lockdown level 2, Te Papa decided to reopen the museum to the general public albeit with strict Covid-19 sanitation practices. Te Papa had been closed for a total of 68 days, which is the longest in the museums history. However not all the exhibitions were reopened, the Gallipoli, Te Taiao, Mana Whenua and the 'Ko Rongowhakaata' exhibition remained closed.  The Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust’s decision to delay the reopening of the 'Ko Rongowhakaata' exhibition and Te Hau Ki Tūranga was also steered by the Ministry of Health guidelines and the fact that the Mana Whenua Iwi had decided that they would not reopen their Marae to the public until the country had moved to Alert Level 1. Ultimately, Rongowhakaata were guided by the tikanga of the Mana Whenua.The Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust alongside Te Papa then decided that 'Ko Rongowhakaata' would stay closed until lockdown restrictions were lifted. Once the Government gave the all clear, the reopening date was set for June 20th.


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The reopening of the 'Ko Rongowhakaata' exhibition was conducted in the early hours of Saturday morning and was attended by Mana Whenua, Te Papa representatives and many whānau members and kaumātua from Rongowhakaata who had travelled especially from Tūranga. The ceremony began with a series of karanga and karakia performed by Mana Whenua from Raukawa, Te Ati awa and Ngāti Toarangatira on level two, they led everyone up the stairs to level 4 where Rongomaraeroa marae was the first to be reawakened. The ope then proceeded to the 'Ko Rongowhakaata' exhibition led by Taharākau Stewart and Sir. Derek Lardelli accompanied by kaikaranga April Nepia-Su'a, Chrissy Moetara and Kathryn Te Kurapa. When the group approached tipuna whare Te Hau ki Tūranga, emotions ran high as the yearning for reconnection came to the forefront. Rongowhakaata kaumātua were the first to enter the whare in a gesture of whakamahana before the official whaikōrero commenced. 


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The whakaoho ceremony started with a Ringatū karakia service performed by kaumātua Jeffrey Pohatu from 'Ngāri uri o Te Kooti' followed by whaikōrero and waiata kinaki from all representatives. The Rongowhakaata delegation showcased their cultural prowess by performing waiata tahito 'Pōpō' that resonated all across the exhibition and served to mirimiri the wairua of the taonga. Furthermore, it was important to acknowledge Rongowhakaata taonga, whakapapa and kōrero in this space so that they reawaken from their temporary slumber and also to whakawātea for museum visitors. Towards the end of the ceremony, Rongowhakaata took the opportunity to acknowledge one of their own, Sir Derek Lardelli on his latest knighthood achievement. A beautiful waiata and whaikōrero was performed ending with a rousing haka. The official proceedings would conclude with a hongi and hākari, which included speeches and entertainment from the Te Papa staff. 

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Rongowhakaata Iwi Chair Moera Brown described the ceremony as 'beautiful' and that we should take a moment to remember those who have passed on "The exhibition opened some time ago but just remembering those who have passed on, such as uncle Lewis Moeau and Erica Jones and her role in setting up the exhibition, and those who were present when we did the big opening here, it was a time to reflect on how well we've done and how far we've come, and just a time to appreciate that actually we are extremely lucky to be involved in this exhibition and to have quite a big footprint, its just really good to reconnect with our taonga and our tipuna, it was a pretty special day." All parties who attended the ceremony shared these sentiments. 


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The Chair of Te Papa, Dame Fran Wilde also expressed her thoughts "I regard the heart of the museum as Rongomaraeroa and of coarse Te Hau ki Tūranga and the Rongowhakaata exhibition." She continued to show Te Papa's commitment to Rongowhakaata by adding "we have had Rongowhakaata here as the iwi in residence, now we need to go to your place, and so it would be the Board and the senior management coming up there and meeting you and hopefully we would be able to have an agreement about our future relationship." The Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust welcomes this initiative.  


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The relationship between Rongowhakaata and Te Papa has only strengthened during the Covid-19 lockdown and as we look towards our post-Covid future we must foster this relationship for the sake of our taonga. Furthermore, the unique circumstances we faced during the Covid-19 lockdown has propelled Rongowhakaata into leading the digital space for iwi and indigenous peoples the world over. The reopening ceremony was a testament to the strength of Rongowhakaata whānau to represent Rongowhakaata values of rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga. And so, like our tipuna before us, we must keep striving to uphold our mana tangata and mana taonga for future generations. 

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4 June 2020

LIVESTREAM on Saturday 6 June 2020 commencing at 10.00am




In light of a recent FB post for kanohi ki te kanohi to be exercised at the Hui-a-Iwi, the Trust with Turanga Ararau have agreed to livestream from the campus

and open the space to allow Iwi members to physically attend should they wish. 


Please note there are Alert Level 2 COVID-19 obligations which will need to comply with: and in doing so ask that you register with the office before 

4.00pm on Friday 5 June.


PHONE: 06 862 8086 or

EMAIL: trust@rongowhakaata.iwi.nz


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4 June 2020

Review of the Deed of Trust for the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust Information for Whānau


What is the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust Deed?

The Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust (RST) Deed is the legal document that empowers the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust (RIT) to hold and manage the Treaty of Waitangi post-settlement assets on behalf of Rongowhakaata. It also sets out the rules on how RIT should do this.

Why are we reviewing the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust Deed?

It has now been five years since RIT became the corporate trustee for the RST and there is a provision within the RST Deed to review it at this time to ensure that it is working as it was intended to.

Didn’t we review this Trust Deed a few years back and make a number of changes to it?

In 2017 RIT did undertake a review but it was of the RIT Deed, not the RST Deed. The RIT Deed is a separate legal document that established RIT as an incorporated charitable trust.

There were many submissions received on the RIT Deed and a number of substantive changes resulted from this. These changes included the incorporation of Rongowhakaata values, amendments to the representation model and election of trustees, and additional provisions to ensure that trustees conduct themselves appropriately. These changes took effect in November 2017.

Why do we have two Trust Deeds and what is the difference between them?

The RST was established by its own Trust Deed and is in effect the commercial arm of Rongowhakaata and RIT was established by a separate Trust Deed and is Rongowhakaata’s charitable arm. Although being two separate entities, the elected trustees of RIT are responsible for the strategic oversight and governance of both entities in accordance with the two separate Trust Deeds.

While there are some key differences between the two Trust Deeds (for example, the RST Deed contains more specific commercial provisions, such as application of income and archiving of records), the overall provisions are very similar (for example, the appointment, responsibilities, powers and liabilities of the trustees).

RIT appreciate that having two separate Trust Deeds can create confusion and additional effort and cost, so have sought legal advice to determine whether Rongowhakaata needs to continue to have two Trust Deeds once we have completed this review.

Given the similarities between the two Trust Deeds and that the changes from the review of the RIT Deed have only been in effect for just over 2 years, surely this would have implications for this review?

Yes it does. Given the overall similarity in most of the provisions of the two Trust Deeds, to save time and costs RIT decided last year to update the RST Deed to align with the RIT Deed. A summary of these proposed ‘alignment’ changes and the provisions more specific to the RST Deed has also been provided for your consideration.

If the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust Deed has already been updated, why still have the review?

RIT are legally obligated to conduct a review of the RST Deed at this time. Although the RST Deed has been updated to align with the RIT Deed, these changes still form part of the formal review process and will not come into effect until passed by a special resolution. Furthermore, an overview of the updated RST Deed is required to ensure that the specific commercial provisions are still relevant, and the overall RST Deed is consistent with Trust Law and the purpose for which it was established. RIT have engaged a lawyer, Spencer Webster, to undertake this formal review.

So why am I being notified about this?

At the 2019 hui-a-tau, whānau were notified that copies of the 2014 and updated RST Deeds were available at the RIT offices, and were invited to make any submissions for amending the RST Deed.

Only one submission has been received to date and RIT wants to ensure that all of our whānau are well aware of this review and have an opportunity to provide input. This input could include more general feedback such as your thoughts on how well RIT is managing the post-settlement assets on behalf of Rongowhakaata and what, if any, changes could be made to help improve the management of these assets.1

The review also provides a particular opportunity to reflect on the changes that were made as part of the 2017 review of the RIT Deed, to see whether the changes are working as well as intended and suggest any further refinement.

If you would like to make a submission to amend the RST Deed, or provide more general feedback and input into the review, please address your submission to the Chair of RIT, Moera Brown and send to: rst-deedreview@rongowhakaata.iwi.nz by 30 June 2020.

What was the one submission received so far?

The Chair of the Kāhui Kaumātua has notified RIT that they would like to open the membership of Kāhui Kaumātua to any Rongowhakaata kaumātua that wants to be involved. Currently the Trust Deed makes provision for each marae to appoint two kaumātua only to Te Kāhui. The suggested amendment has already been incorporated (in track changes) in the updated RST Deed, for whānau to consider.

If I am interested in looking at the RST Deed and/or providing any feedback what do I need to do?

The 2014 and updated RST Deeds are available for inspection at the RIT offices, or you can request copies from the RIT office by email: rst-deedreview@rongowhakaata.iwi.nz or phone: 06 862 8086.

Please address any feedback or submissions for amending the RST Deed to the Chair of RIT, Moera Brown and send to: rst-deedreview@rongowhakaata.iwi.nz by 30 June 2020.

What happens once I have made a submission?

Your submission will be considered alongside all the other submissions and feedback received and a summary of the feedback and RIT’s response to this will be provided to whānau by August 2020.
The proposed amendments to the RST Deed will be notified by RIT in October and you will have about a month to consider and vote on a special resolution to amend the RST Deed.

A hui on the special resolution to amend the RST Deed will take place in November, at which time the voting will close.

If I have any more questions about the review or how I can input, what do I do?

For any enquiries on the review of the RST Deed or how you can have your say, please contact the RIT office by email: rst-deedreview@rongowhakaata.iwi.nz or phone: 06 862 8086.


1 Rongowhakaata’s post-settlement assets include Opou station, the ex-railway land site, part of the former Gisborne Abattoir site, the old police station and the Rakaukaka Scenic Reserve. Rongowhakaata also received financial redress of just over $20 million. For more information on this, please ask the RIT office for a copy of the ‘Summary of the Rongowhakaata Settlement’.


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Ko Rongowhakaata

29 September 2017

Explore the land, people, and stories of Rongowhakaata, an iwiiwitribe whose unique art reflects their innate creativity, rich history, and innovative spirit. 

Rongowhakaata and Te Papa have worked together to create Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow. In this dramatic exhibition, discover awe-inspiring taongataongatreasures, innovative contemporary art, and powerful stories of survival and tenacity.

Get to know this small, but enduring iwi from the East Coast of the North Island, whose leaders and creativity have made a big impact across Aotearoa New Zealand. See their renowned whare whakairo Te Hau ki Tūranga in a new light – a high point of Rongowhakaata creative expression.




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Ko Rongowhakaata

29 November 2016

This exhibition is the second part of a three-part exhibition series for Rongowhakaata. Part one was the successful Rongowhakaata marae based exhibition earlier this year and part three will be the iwi exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa in 2017. 

This exhibition is about Rongowhakaata reaffirming who they are as a people, and re-telling their stories in their homelands so that the next generation can hear, see, and feel Rongowhakaata history and the unique experiences that build the fabric of the Rongowhakaata people. It is an immersion into facets of the world of Rongowhakaata people, both old and new, as expressed through their historical and contemporary arts.

For more information contact Rongowhakaata Trust Oce on (06) 862 8086 OR Tairawhiti Museum on (06) 867 3832

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Rongowhakaata AGM

21 October 2016

Kia ora,

Feel free to click on the link below to view the documents that will be discussed at the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust AGM being held Saturday 19 November 2016, 10am at Manutūkē Marae.

*N.B - Printed hardcopies will be available on the day or you can pick up a copy at the Trust Office.

Click on "Read More" below to view the AGM via livestream

Nga mihi

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