Land transfer proposed for sacred Waikato site

Te Paina (Mercer Domain Recreation Reserve) is currently a Crown-owned, Waikato District Council-managed reserve comprising several parcels of land.

Waikato-Tainui has long indicated Te Paina is of such historical significance to the account of both Kīngitanga and Raupatu that the exercise of mana whakahaere (authority) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of Te Paina should be returned to Waikato-Tainui and its hapū.

The history of Te Paina is intrinsically linked to the Waikato-Tainui historical tribal narrative and features prominently in major events over many generations.

From the 1860 land wars and raupatu (confiscation), through to the relocation of whānau from Te Paina to Ngāruawāhia to establish Tūrangawaewae marae more than 100 years ago, to the passive resistance against conscription during World War 1, Te Paina is a significant site in the story and identity of Waikato-Tainui. With the significance of the land to Waikato-Tainui and its hapū – Ngāti Naho and Ngāti Tamaoho – in mind, a Council report recommended its appointment to control and manage Te Paina be revoked, and it be returned to Waikato-Tainui.

The process requires public notification, receipt of submissions from the public and interested parties, and – if necessary – a hearing of submissions.

Michelle Lewis, DOC’s Statutory Manager for Hauraki Waikato Taranaki, says DOC’s role is to manage the process for the proposed transfer.

“DOC has a legislative role in this proposal. Essentially, we run the process independently of the Council and Waikato-Tainui – but with their support – and act as a facilitator,” Michelle Lewis says.

“Members of the public and agencies with an interest in this proposal, and wanting to contribute to the process, can make a submission through our website,” she says.

As part of the classification and vesting process, the Council has managed the vacant possession of the land and has undertaken a legal survey. Assessments of site values have also taken place.

Once the submissions process is completed, DOC will make a recommendation to the Minister of Conservation and a decision will be made.

Submissions will be open from today, 7 July, and close on 8 August.

To make a submission go to www.doc.govt.nz/te-paina-vesting

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