Road to popular surfing spot Shipwreck Bay shut after pou vandalism

A broken pou.
Northland iwi, Te Rarawa, is incredibly disappointed by the vandalism. Photo credit: Facebook/Tui Quauqau Te Paa

Northland Māori have closed off access to a popular surfing spot after their sacred pou were vandalised.

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 Māori people and reflect ancestral and environmental relationships. Pou can be used to mark places of significance or represent land ownership.

In this case the pou marked a rahui on collecting seafood in the area, and until Saturday had stood unbothered for nearly 10 years.

Iwi leader Haami Piripi told Newshub the community wants to send a strong message.

"They're greatly offended by somebody coming into their backyard and attacking their cultural icons, this gives people an idea of how much damage it causes."

The road to Shipwreck Bay will be closed for a week from Friday night.

Piripi said the way the pou were destroyed, hacked down and cut into pieces, had a profound effect on the iwi.

"The fact it's been damaged in such a malicious way is very upsetting, it's like anything, when you have an upset situation you have to do things to ameliorate the emotions that result from it."

He thought the pou were safe, and will ensure the replacements will be.

"Gone are the days of trying to block out and shun out and vandalise Māori initiatives, that's not appropriate any longer.

"That's what the message is being put across."


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