Auckland iwi Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki has unveiled plans to offer biking tours and accommodation on Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf.
The iwi signed a relationship agreement with the Department of Conservation on Wednesday, which gave them a role as mana whenua in influencing policies, looking after the whenua (land) and taonga species, providing visitor information and protecting waahi tapu (sacred sites).
The agreement was a condition of last year’s Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Deed of Settlement, but was delayed while the courts heard challenges by the iwi to ferry and tourism concessions granted by DoC.
Ngāi Tai won those cases, which concluded in the Supreme Court in December, and chair James Brown told Waatea News they were excited to finally be able to exercise manaakitanga and rangatiratanga over the motu.
“We’re wanting to partner in the true sense with our DoC agent, a true treaty partnership and an example of that is how we could partner on Motutapu Island.”
The people of Ngāi Tai have deep historical and spiritual connections with Rangitoto and Motutapu. A voyager in the waka Tainui, Taikehu, established himself on Motutapu.
The iwi had its own commercial, cultural and customary plans for the motu, Brown previously told the Herald.
They would be happy to work with other operators, as long as the process properly took into account Treaty principles.
Brown told Waatea News now the agreement had been signed with DoC they wanted to make Motutapu “more accessible than it ever was”.
“The only way we can do that is bring further activities like biking both islands with guides that will give you the accurate history, it will give you the substance around recent conservation and restoration work.”
The iwi also wanted to invest in lodge accommodation on the island, could look at projects like a zipline to the summit of Rangitoto in the future.