Iwi Kaupapa

ImageIwi kaupapa for Karaka Bay

Iwi consultation is concerned on the one hand with ensuring respect for Maori values, and on the other hand with protecting whakapapa. Thus Maori are concerned with mauri and wairua on the one hand and kaitiakitanga on the other. Karaka Bay is one of the most significant sites in Auckland. The mauri is strong and the stories are rich. Karaka Bay abounds in middens and in history. It is here that iwi consultation comes into focus.



Karaka Bay is one of the most sacred sites in Auckland. It is at the meeting of the waters. In olden times, before there was sea level rise, this was the confluence of the Waitemata and Tamaki Rivers. From the viewpoint of landscape Karaka Bay is the beginning, the source. This landscape was modified by significant volcanic activity, some to the north around 50,000 years ago and some to the south around 20,000 years ago. Motukorea is a young volcano, and Rangitoto is so young that is has hardly been born. People watched the eruption from the beach at Karaka Bay. The Karaka Bay beach was strewn with 20,000 year old rocks until quite recently, when the Auckland City Council decided to clean them up to make Karaka Bay look more like the Bahamas.

New Zealand is torn in 2010 between those like it the way it is, and those who want to imitate somewhere else. Harakeke or cyclads.

Karaka Bay, like all of New Zealand, is dynamic and on the move. It is alive. Those who deal in death need to go to Australia for their holidays. The Bay has always been changing, but so have the cliffs. The cliffs surrounding Karaka Bay are on the move. Engineers think they have the power to kill the earth because they do not think in geological time. The mushroom always wins. The wairua of the landscape will destroy the materialistic objects of those who have no sacredness in their lives. True New Zealanders go along for the ride, and they enjoy the journey. They watch the cracks opening up in the path and they feel the pulse of life.

The first question iwi need to ask is whether the proposed works protect and enhance the mauri of the Bay. The only answer has to be that the proposed works completely ignore the health of the Bay. They take the attitude that it is possible to stop the universe to give materialistic pleasure to a few residents who have a life-span which is completely insignificant when contrasted with the life of the Bay.

The concept of kaitiakitanga was introduced into New Zealand law in the Resource Management Act in 1991. Who then are kaitiaki for the Bay? Those whose love for the Bay is so strong that they become once with place. Those who feel the joy of the sharp light shimmering on the tide as the rising sun fills the sky with colour. Those who feel the pain when the Auckland City Council brings in heavy machinery to run up and down the beach destroying all the pipi beds. Because they feel the joy and the pain of this unique place the kaitiaki delight in the call of the ruru in the night and the trace left in the sand by the patiki.

It is the kaitiaki who speak for the Bay. The selfish and the self-centred, like the Council, are only concerned with power and control. It follows that those who want to create the Bay in their own image and likeness are afraid of nature. They seek to shelter and hide, creating fortresses rather than laughter. Nature sees lives as here today and gone tomorrow. Love endures.

The selfish seek to cut down the pohutukawa so that they can see, but they can see nothing. They look at a view which is cold and hard because they have no relationship of love. How can you see if you do not first have love? Only love gives you the eyes to see.

Kaitiaki look at the proposed works and they see only fear, despair, and a loss of hope. The proposed works are a quick-fix temporary solution which will leave nothing more than a mess behind for future generations. The proposed works are devoid of love, and have nothing more than the hollow ring of materialistic people who have thrown even pakeha concepts like sustainability out the window.

Sustainability means sustaining our whakapapa so that we might pass it on to future generations. We have inherited one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The proposed works destroy that beauty.

Karaka Bay is of course much more than landscape. It is also rich in stories and traditions. The stories of who we are and our relationship to place. Stories of violence as well as peace. Stories of intrigue and deceit alongside stories of generosity and selflessness. All of life is to be found at Karaka Bay. The sand runs red with blood. Many warriors were killed on the beach. It seems probable that this is an urupa because the few survivors of the last great battles did not have the option of taking their bodies with them. Sunbathers lie out on the sand unaware of all this.

In more peaceful times life at the Bay was rich and fulfilling. Until very recently the kaimoana was endless. Middens still are everywhere. The destruction of this wonderful sea life only began in very recent history. Councils allowed silt to be poured into the Estuary in the sixties and the kaimoana died. There was pollution. The ICI fire. Almost no one has fought back because iwi had moved away. Only a few groups like the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society, and a few individuals, fought back so that once again Karaka Bay might team with life. As little as 300 years ago the shellfish were much bigger. In 300 years we could have that once again. The proposed works however speak only of death rather than life. We do not need a coroner to tell us why the Bay died. We need kaitiaki who will give us life. Iwi involvement at Karaka Bay is critical.

When the Bay is once again rich in kaimoana it is more that just the cockle beds and pipis which will be brought back to life. The whole health of the ecosystem will be recovered. The sand at Karaka Bay is 80% cockle shell sand. When the source is healthy again residents will be complaining about accretion rather than erosion.

Iwi have vision. Iwi see the big picture. Iwi understand whakapapa and the importance of passing it on to future generations. Iwi understand their role as kaitiaki. While others are haggling over some boundary iwi understand that in nature there are no boundaries, only life in all its richness. While others are haggling over some law iwi understand that the laws of nature and life are bigger than all this.

Iwi are not opposed to anything. They are positive rather than negative. They speak for life itself. They speak for soft-ecology within a “do no harm” ethic. It is secondary that this sometimes means they must speak out against those who seek to harm the wairua of Karaka Bay. When people see how iwi have enriched their lives they will give thanks.

It is indeed sad that Maori should need to do this, but on the other hand how thankful we can all be in New Zealand at least Maori have values, principles and ethics to match their love of the natural world.

Tony Watkins, M.Arch, Dip TP Hons, FNZIA, RIBA

I was co-author of the first Maritime Plan in New Zealand. I was the person who introduced Kaitiakitanga into the Resource Management Act. I was the person who made endless trips down to Kaiaua to get Ngati Paoa to assert their rights as the Treaty signatories at Karaka Bay. I gave thanks when Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau was signed at Karaka Bay on 4 March. It has been a long journey. Kia Kaha.