A New Day Dawns for Rahui Pou at Otia

In a pre-dawn ceremony Te Rarawa unveiled the reinstated rahui pou at Otia past Shipwreck Bay near Ahipara.

Te Rarawa members, guests and representatives from Ahipara Takiwa, the collective of marae with mana whenua in the area, made the journey along the rugged coastline to witness the unveiling of the two pou – Te Omu and Te Aho.

A four-wheel drive crossing around rocky headlands and beaches soft enough to bury your wheels in a flash, it’s not a journey for the faint hearted. Particularly in the black of night as waves sweep in with the fast-approaching high tide.

Known as ‘Te Aho’ and ‘Te Omu’ the pou mark the rahui area banning all fishing and seafood gathering along 1.34 kilometres of coastline and one nautical mile out to sea. The area was placed under rahui ten years ago to preserve and replenish seafood stocks, with 20,000 juvenile paua planted in 2011. 

Earlier in the year the pou were attacked by vandals and felled with a chainsaw, sending shockwaves through the community and launching an ongoing investigation by New Zealand Police.

But the attack only strengthened the resolve of iwi and hapu.

"We don't look at it as a set-back. Rather it's an opportunity to develop resilience and reaffirm our protocols and position," said Haami Piripi, Te Rarawa Chairperson who conducted the ceremony.

We'll continue to exercise kaitiakitanga and tino rangatiratanga over our taonga. It's our role and responsibility as ahi ka, as tangata whenua, as Maori.

Local kaitiaki and artist Te Aroha Te Paa has worked with whanau and hapu to restore the pou for several months. The reinstated pou have been freshly carved and painted with the addition of reflective paint for night time visibility.