Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust: Maui.Tech case study

An iwi/Māori-led climate change case study, produced as part of the Maui.Tech project

Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust: Te Ara Whakatipu

This video case study from the rohe of Te Taitokerau revolves around the community's efforts to protect their whenua, culture and environment, while also navigating economic challenges and government regulations that impact their land use and sustainability.

Pita Tipene, chair of Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust, emphasises that He Whakaputanga (the Declaration of Independence) remains a cornerstone and a reminder of the promise the tūpuna of Ngāti Hine had for their descendants in working with the Crown.  

This video case study was produced as part of the Maui.Tech project. Read more about Maui.Tech.


  • Pita Tipene (Ngāti Hine), Chair, Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust

Click to read transcript

Pita Tipene  00:11 
The bottom lines for us are environmental, they are social, they are cultural. And while economic is a really important part, it can't be to the detriment of any of the others. Unfortunately, there are some people in this world, and I'd go as far as to say some cultures in this world, which put the economic far ahead of anything else. And that's why we're in the predicament that we are now where we're faced with a climate crisis. 

Trevor Moeke [Narrator] 00:54 
It's a situation known all too well for coastal communities across Te Tai Tokerau. A region famous for many waka landing sites, and ancient kauri forests, which face environmental problems from kauri dieback to drought. 

Pita Tipene  01:09 
Ngāti Hine Forest Trust is five and a half thousand hectares. There are other Ngāti Hine Trusts and entities around us, so collectively, it's getting up to 10,000 hectares. We are one of the larger forestry estates in Te  Tai Tokerau, but we're just a speck on the beach. And we can do much better together, much more together than we can alone. 

Trevor Moeke  01:35 
Ngāti Hine are among 14 Northland forest owners who have come together under the Te Tai Tokerau Forests Association to protect what they can.  

Pita Tipene  01:44 
There are many land holdings in Te Tai Tokerau that were put into forestry some 40-50 years ago. Those trees have now largely matured. Largely too, they were leased out to foreign companies, who have all of the control over the harvesting, the contracting.  

Māori people after being promised many things, a lot of it didn't eventuate. So we said, "let's get together and create a new strategy and a new vision where we replant our own lands, and then we've got the control that we need". Because all we can see is logs going down to the port and going off overseas. Why isn't the value being retained in our own communities.  

So for all of those sorts of reasons, not to mention environmental, we made a conscious decision to move away from exotic species, in this case Pinus radiata, and to go back with a vision of re-cloaking our whenua in native. It's going to be intergenerational. We certainly can't jump from exotic back to native in a couple of years. So it's a it's a long term, literally 100-year strategy. 

Trevor Moeke  02:32 
No strangers to a good challenge, forest owners in the north believe they have the right model to ensure their intergenerational sustainability. 

Pita Tipene  03:09 
We're not into growing native raukau simply to chop it down again in another 40, 50, 100 years. We're looking to other ways of ensuring that we meet the commercial bottom line, in this case, about nutriceuticals and other ways of benefiting the people. Because ultimately, we are stewards of the land. So we need to look after the land. But we need to look after the shareholders as well. 

Trevor Moeke  03:38 
Taking the values of their ancestors forward and promoting wider recognition of He Whakaputanga, the Declaration of Independence, remains a cornerstone of Ngāti Hine's focus on working with the Crown, along with Aotearoa's founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

Pita Tipene  03:56 
Sixth of February, 2022, 182 years on from when Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed, obviously a special day. Our tupuna Kawiti was here on those days. But when it got to the sixth of February, he said, “I refuse to sign”. He Whakaputanga that was signed by Kawiti five years prior to that, as far as we're concerned in Ngāti Hine those are the foundational documents. They are the kawenata [covenant] and the promise that our tupuna committed to, and therefore we are absolutely committed to it. 

Like a lot of other legislation, there has been no or little consideration of what it means for Māori. It has been ill conceived in our minds and hearts. We quickly filed with the Waitangi Tribunal an application to oppose the ETS, on the basis that our Rangatira, when they signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi, had control over the autonomy of their taonga, their whenua.  

But now the government is telling us that ‘you must plant at that time, a species to that height to let many stems’ and we said, ‘No.’   

Trevor Moeke  05:24 
Signed in 1835, the Declaration established Māori sovereignty over their whenua, placing sole decision making authority to the chiefs of the land. But that power continues to be denied to Māori with the most recent concern for forest owners being the emissions trading scheme. Ngāti Hine are no longer willing to sacrifice the biodiversity without recognition. 

Pita Tipene  05:52 
The pages of the book, which is Te Tiriti of Waitangi, He Whakaputanga – you must stand up and defend what has been promised. Kawanatanga, 1840, February the sixth, meant you will govern your people. You will tidy up your act.  

So ETS, any other legislation, you can go in and post it somewhere else. In terms of the biodiversity, that's why we've currently just kicked off a kaupapa to restore the wetlands just up the river here. And the project is called He Ringa Ahuwhenua. So we're working along with government, along with Scion, and really making sure that we understand clearly what it means for our tuna, and our kewai, and our other flora and fauna. Not only that, but what it means for the habitats further down into the moana itself.  

It is going to be difficult. But the difficulty doesn't mean much because we're in control of our own destiny based on our own values and our own principles. But it's going to take everyone within our people to make a difference in our patch – ‘titiro atu ki ngā taumata o te moana, kei reira te oranga mō koutou' [look to the horizon, therein lies our survival].