Historic Northland pā site to be gifted back to local hapū

Sun, Feb 5

A historic Northland pā site with links to Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika is to be handed back to hapū, after collaboration by the Government, private landowners and local hapū.

"It is fitting that the ceremony for the return of the Pākinga Pā site is during Waitangi weekend," Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan said.

"The return of this site west of Kaikohe reflects the continuing partnership between Crown and iwi, and the determination of local Pakeha and Māori landowners to honour the shared history of their community."

Allan said the farmland is currently privately owned by the Coleman and Nikora families, and "includes the location of the historic Pā, as well as the access road needed to open up the site as a heritage, cultural and education centre for visitors and locals".

"Thanks to the generosity and respect shown by these private landowners, and $750,000 investment by a Government regional economic development fund, the Pākinga Pā site will be transferred to a Whenua Tōpū Trust to manage in perpetuity on behalf of Ngāpuhi," Allan said.

"The government-funded restoration of the site includes new fencing, surveying, the construction of road and foot access onto the pā, sensitive clearing of vegetation on the archaeological site and providing carparks and signage."

Rick Coleman told Kānoa, the regional development and investment unit in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), that he chose to return the land after seeing "the destruction of the pā through animals and through erosion".

"I started learning a lot more the stories with the elders. I thought, 'Oh, wouldn't it be neat if we can somehow have it so the hapūs could run it, look after it."

He called the pā a "very important part to the people that live around here because their ancestors lived here".

"It made it real simple. The ancestors lived here – let's give it to them."

The project is expected to generate 15 new jobs for visitor tours and help maintaining the land.

There are 268 projects worth around $784 million being managed in Northland by Kānoa, Allan said.