An Open Letter to Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa: Hold the Pekapeka Block

Tena koutou katoa e nga whanaunga,

Nga mihi Puanga ki a koutou.

Over the past few weeks I have become increasingly concerned at the deal that is being supported with the NPDC by Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa. I wanted to share my concerns directly with you and I will also be sharing more widely through a range of mediums that reach Te Atiawa whanau.

In looking through the material I am yet to see or hear any meaningful reason why Te Atiawa would agree to the NPDC deal related to the Pekapeka Block. The rationale given appears to be one of a ‘this is the best we will get’ scenario which in my view, and that of our whanau, is an inadequate rationale for supporting a deal that clearly works against the best interests of the whanau, hapu and iwi of Te Atiawa.

While at home last week I talked to my mother about the block next to our whanau. As many of you will know the Pihama whanau have lived on Browne street since the late 1950’s. That property remains with our whanau. We have paid lease on that whenua for near 50 years. My father struggled to raise his whanau on our own lands while paying leasehold to those that confiscated the Pekapeka block. It was a painful experience to watch that struggle year after year and to see the impact of the trauma of that historical oppression on him and his siblings.

Having talked within our whanau over the past two weeks I have downloaded the history of sale for the property in Browne street. That is next to our whanau home. One would expect it to be leasehold but it is not. It was sold as freehold in the 1980s and then sold again in 2004. The price being half the valuation price. The question is how did this happen? and how has it happened for many sections around that area? Has Te Kotahitanga investigated or being provided with the history of those now freehold properties? I would be interested in seeing any documentation you may have for other similar properties that have been moved from leasehold to freehold as that indicates that for a number of years the council have actually been enabling this process to happen to select individuals within Waitara, and I understand have in some cases returned leasehold sections to the Housing corporation for the development of State housing. If indeed this is the case then there is even more grounds for Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa to put a hold on this current process and to re-negotiate the terms of the agreement.

In the work we are doing as a part of investigating Historical trauma and the impact on our people there is vast amounts of evidence that indicates that historical trauma events of colonisation create a context of wounding our people. Native healer and scholars Eduardo Duran and Bonnie Duran refer to this as a ‘soul wound’. Soul wounds that are not healed are passed through our whakapapa, they impact on every part of being Maori, of being Te Atiawa, they create a context where within te ira tangata the pain memories of our tupuna are passed intergenerationally. That is the impact on whanau in Waitara. That is what needs to be healed. The issue of what is happening with the Pekapeka block is not solely one of land ownership or economics, it is one of needing meaningful and enduring pathways of social justice to heal those soul wounds.

As I look at the maps of the blocks on the council documentation the name ‘Pekapeka’ does not appear. Referring to this block only as Endowment lease-lands removes an understanding of the history of land theft, the acts of colonial oppression, the imposition of colonial rule, the impact of the associated historical trauma upon generations of Te Atiawa descendants. This process of not naming the whenua is a means by which the council can then present the ‘lease lands’ as if they are just any other block of land. But this is not just any other block. This is the Pekapeka block and the name is significant within our history.

It is my view as a researcher in this area that the current deal will not only remove our ability as Te Atiawa to receive social justice, it will also further embed the pain of the historical spiritual and cultural wounds that our people carry as a result of the invasion of our lands and oppression of our peoples. As the representative body of our people you are the only ones at this point who can stop this process and return us to a pathway of meaningful negotations that will be about social justice and healing. I am happy to korero more with you and to also be a part of working through processes of seeking pathways of healing for us all as Te Atiawa whanau, hapu and iwi.

nākū noā
nā Leonie

Author: Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

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