Northland iwi devastated after sacred pou vandalised

Northland iwi, Te Rarawa, is incredibly disappointed by the vandalism.
Northland iwi, Te Rarawa, is incredibly disappointed by the vandalism. Photo credit: Facebook

Northland iwi Te Rarawa is incredibly disappointed after discovering a pair of sacred pou vandalised over the weekend.

Two pillars at Tauroa Point, near Kaitaia and Ninety Mile Beach, were found chopped down and cut into pieces. 

Pouwhenua, or pou, are carved wooden pillars similar to totem poles. The carvings tell stories of the Maori people and reflect ancestral and environmental relationships. Pou can be used to mark places of significance or represent land ownership.

Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi told Newshub the pou were erected almost 10 years ago for conservation.

A rahui against collecting seafood between Te Kohanga and Tauroa Point was put in place in 2009. The pou sat at each end of the stretch of land where the rahui is in place. 

The pou have been there since the rahui began, but on Saturday members of Te Rarawa discovered they had been cut down and chopped up.

Piripi said it was incredibly disappointing and undid years of goodwill and trust between Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa and other stakeholders in the area.

From here the plan is to focus on rebuilding that relationship, as well as working with the police to find whoever did it.

The pou will be replaced and the rahui remains in place.

Piripi spoke to police on Saturday and said officers had been great to work with and quickly set to investigating the damage.

The response on Facebook has also been positive, Piripi said plenty of people from across the community were upset the pou had been damaged.

One post sharing photos of a damaged pou had more than 850 reactions and 230 comments. Many said the vandalism was disrespectful.

"I'm a Pakeha and this makes me very angry," one person wrote.  

"How dare they! Well done for rising above and focusing on rebuilding," another said.


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