After almost 60 years of local authority ownership Taniwha Springs will be returned to Te Arawa hapu Ngati Rangiwewehi.
Taniwha Springs. Photo: YouTube.
A special ceremony was held today to mark the return of Taniwha Springs to Ngati Rangiwewehi.
The springs were taken without negotiation under the Public Works Act in 1966 for public water purposes and were vested in the then Rotorua County Council. In August this year Rotorua councillors voted unanimously to return ownership of Taniwha Springs to hapu.
The springs which runs through Hamurana Rd SH36 is of major cultural significance to Ngati Rangiwewehi who have always regarded the taking of them as morally wrong. In the 2012 Ngati Rangiwewehi Treaty Settlement, the Crown acknowledged the taking of the springs as the iwi’s “greatest grievance” and expressed regret over the trauma and anguish the loss caused.
Return of the springs was not included in the iwi’s Treaty settlement as that would have contravened a Crown policy to not deal with lands controlled or managed by local authorities.
The springs feeding the Awahou Stream are considered by Ngati Rangiwewehi to be a life source and are the home of the taniwha Pekehaua, stories of whom are central to the iwi’s traditions and identity.
The return of the springs is subject to an easement which will allow council to continue taking water until the current resource consent expires in 2018.
The council and Ngati Rangiwewehi – who earlier this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out a protocol for collaboration – are now working together to assess the possibility of continuing to use the springs as a water supply, in a way that aligns with cultural and spiritual values and the aspirations of the iwi. Alternative water supply options are also being explored.