Historic Northland pā site with links to Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika handed back to iwi

Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan.
Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan. Photo credit: Newshub

An historic Northland pā site with links to Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika will be handed back to iwi, the Government has announced.

The site is being returned after collaboration by government, private landowners and local hapū, Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan revealed on Sunday.

It will be transformed into a heritage, cultural and education centre for visitors and locals.

"It is fitting that the ceremony for the return of the Pākinga Pā site is during Waitangi weekend," 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 Coleman family and the Nikora whānau currently own the farmland, which includes the location of the historic Pā as well as the access road needed to open up the site.

The Government's regional economic development fund invested $750,000 to transfer the Pākinga Pā to a Whenua Tōpū Trust which will be managed on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

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.

Allan said the work will be done by local companies and sub-contractors and is expected to create 15 new jobs to support "visitor tours and maintenance of the land".

"The project also delivers on a commitment to make our histories better understood and taught in schools and kura. Understanding the big ideas about our shared histories, knowing the local contexts, and thinking critically about the past are central to this.

"We are backing communities all over the country through our regional economic strategy to strengthen community resilience and infrastructure. These investments are even more important as we respond to global economic shocks by supporting local livelihoods.

"In total there are 268 current projects worth $784 million being managed in Tai Tokerau/Northland region by Kānoa, the regional development unit in MBIE," Allan said.