Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa: Maui.Tech case study

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

Te Rarawa: Oneroa Huhua

The kōrero in this video case study from the rohe of Te Taitokerau touches on the importance of Te Oneroa a Tōhe, a significant coastal area for Te Rarawa iwi, and how climate change is affecting it, with erosion and shifting sands causing concern among the local people. Haami Piripi shares his perspective on climate change, and the commitment of Te Rarawa to preserving the environment for future generations.

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


  • Haami Piripi (Te Rarawa), Chair of Te Rarawa at time of filming (February 2022)

Click to read transcript

Haami Piripi  00:12 
I a rātou i haere mai nei i wāwāhi nei i te moana nui a Kiwa, tēnā iwi i aua wā rā ki a au nei he iwi tapu, mōhio pū rātou ki ngā kararehe o te moana. Ko te aihe tētahi, he mōkai anō mō rātou. Ko mea hāpai anō mō ngā waka i haere mai nei, mai i Hawaikii. [When they (ancestors) came here they split across the Vast Ocean of Kiwa. These people in my opinion were and are revered. They knew all the creatures of the ocean. One was the dolphin, which they used as pets to guide them in their waka on their journey from Hawaikii.]

Tēnei anō te karanga atu ki a koutou o te ao Māori kia hou mai kia uru mai koutou i roto i te āhuatanga o wēnei mahi, o wēnei kōrero, kia whakatau mai koutou i runga anō ngā mana o mātou mātua tupuna, e karanga atu nei ki a koutou. Haramai, haramai, nau mai rā. [This is my call to our people to join and get onboard and amongst the work and conversations, join with me with the reverence of our ancestors who also call to you. Come and join the cause.] 

Trevor Moeke [Narrator] 01:17 
Te Oneroa a Tōhe – the spiritual homeland of many  iwi of Te Tai Tokerau, including Te Rarawa. In ancient times, it provided an important transport route and place for food gathering. But as the sands of time shift the longest beautiful stretch of coastline, so to have the winds of climate change. 

Haami Piripi  01:42 
It's already to beginning to impact now. Oneroa a Tōhe is getting significantly modified on almost a daily basis by the massive swell and water movement. We can see the sand banks getting eaten away month by month. And now the people are worried about the appropriate.  

Scientists tell us a couple of our harbours are going to be good indicators of the rate of progress. So we'd like to set up monitoring stations that would allow us to measure that that impact and that effect over time. If we had a set up ten years ago would have a good database of how much seas have changed.  

Getting back to nature, getting back to our understanding of the mātauranga Māori around te taiao. I think it's a better way of managing New Zealand's biodiversity than anything we have at present ,because it is a biodiverse model kaitiakitanga. 

Trevor Moeke  02:45 
As ocean ecosystems and biodiversity continue to be impacted by climate variation, Te Rarawa with other iwi have put in place customary protections such as rahui across their significant rohe moana. 

Haami Piripi  03:04 
Use of rahui is a tool is a well established methodology that we've used historically for a long time as a measure of conservation, as a measure of prohibition. So we know how effective they can be. The question is what kind of rahui. Over the last 100 years maybe, we've come to consider that a rahui can be achieved by a Christian blessing, or the will of whim of a minister, or piece of legislation. The voice of the people of the moana, the voice of the people of the land has been drowned out by the volume of compliance driven initiatives that have been imposed. You think about what we've given to this nation, and what we've got back, we've really been shortchanged. 

Trevor Moeke  04:05 
The question for Te Rarawa is how, and if, the Crown will provide for an equitable climate transition, by giving affect to the true meaning of the Treaty partnership. 

Haami Piripi  04:16 
The Crown-Māori partnership is a recognition of our pre 1840 sovereignty. In that sense the Crown can't speak for anything pre-1840. It wasn't even here. You can't produce a conservation ethos and expect to apply that nationally.  

The issue that the government is finding most difficult are issues that really rely on our input to make it happen, to make it  work. Like fisheries, like te taiao, like water. Yeah. Those are all issues that deserve to be embellished with the strength of cultural wealth. And that strength of cultural wealth will provide us as a nation with the caliber of initiative that we need to show, is world leading. We have the ability to achieve that, if we were able to collaborate effectively in that way. Adding cultural capital to mainstream capital, and coming out with an outcome that is good for everybody. I think that's what Te Tiriti o Waitangi sought to do.  

Māori – we are unique. We have a unique existence. We have a unique relationship with the elements. We have the ability to fit ourselves into the whakapapa of the universe, and identify ourselves within it. We have the ability to draw from that, the mana and tapu that we need to grow and move our people forward. We're going to be in the lead I think when it comes to massive change on the planet. 

That ambition, aspiration of survival of sustainability has been with us for 1000s of years. We traversed the greatest expanse of water on the planet. A lot of other Polynesian islands, so certainly in Tahiti, they do believe that the answer to the future is here. And I can see that every Polynesian in the Pacific is got more right to be here than any Pākeha, because this is the island too, as part of a big tree of Polynesian exploration and migration.  

Who else should step up, than us? We are in a very good position to help. And the foundation of this position is our whanaungatanga. We are natural survivors because we are naturally able to employ, innovate, and not be afraid to implement new ideas and new ways of doing things.