Te Papa Ahurewa – taiao hub to provide independent advice to iwi

Jul 15, 2021 | Media

A new taiao hub – Te Papa Ahurewa – will officially commence operations in July 2021. Te Papa Ahurewa will provide technical services to Te Arawa hapū and iwi, with a goal of assisting hapū and iwi with ensuring Te Arawa values drive environmental policy, planning and resource consent outcomes.

Based at Te Arawa Lakes Trust (TALT), Te Papa Ahurewa consists of a team of technicians with kaupapa Māori and resource management skills. The team will work with and be guided by Te Arawa hapū and iwi to respond to environmental kaupapa, including assessing resource consent applications and providing engagement and policy advice.

The operations of Te Papa Ahurewa are funded by Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council for 12 months. Regional Council’s Chief Executive Fiona McTavish says there has been a clear call for independent technical advice to help tangata whenua with various RMA processes – Te Papa Ahurewa is intended to assist in addressing this gap.

TALT Chief Executive, Karen Vercoe, says Te Papa Ahurewa will seek to ensure Te Arawa values are incorporated into RMA processes, in turn ensuring Te Arawa interests in the environment are protected and upheld.

“We want to ensure Te Papa Ahurewa provides means for Te Arawa iwi and hapū to engage in these processes to ensure better outcomes. The Hub will mean hapū and whānau have a greater voice in the process, as we are better able to ensure they are aware of proposed developments and have the opportunity to be involved” she says.

“Te Papa Ahurewa will provide technical expertise to support positive outcomes but is not designed to make decisions on behalf of iwi or hapū. The work of the taiao hub will be directed by iwi and hapū who wish to utilise the service, and who hold the mana to make decisions over their resources within their rohe.”

Ms Vercoe says Te Papa Ahurewa is also not designed to circumvent resource management processes. Rather, the taiao hub will work collaboratively and seamlessly to facilitate engagement between community, council, and Te Arawa to support better outcomes for the taiao.

It is intended that the Hub’s services will also be shared with wider Government agencies and the private sector over time.

“The Hub will facilitate the input of mana whenua perspectives into wider environmental management, with our advice and expertise supporting Government responsibilities as Treaty partners,” Ms Vercoe says.

Te Rangimārie Williams (Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhoe, Taranaki, Ngāti Hauiti) has been appointed to manage Te Papa Ahurewa. Te Rangimārie practiced resource management law for several years before focusing on supporting hapū and iwi in the policy, planning and consenting space. Te Rangimārie recently managed an iwi environmental unit on the Kāpiti Coast and brings a wealth of experience to the role.

“We are pleased to appoint a manager to Te Papa Ahurewa of Te Rangimārie’s calibre,” Ms Vercoe says.

Fiona McTavish adds that the Regional Council fully supports initiatives that build Māori capacity and hopes it will allow for strengthened Māori partnerships.

“Te Papa Ahurewa is a great model which will provide value for iwi, Councils and ultimately, the taiao. As Te Papa Ahurewa develops we will be looking to establish other taiao hubs across Bay of Plenty, to help build more iwi and hapū capacity.”

Te Papa Ahurewa are planning Te Arawa-wide engagement with Te Arawa iwi, hapū and entities to discuss Te Papa Ahurewa and the mahi it can deliver. However, if you would like to get in touch with Te Papa Ahurewa prior to this engagement, please direct your queries to terangimarie@tearawa.iwi.nz.