Ko Maungatautari tō mātou maunga Ko Waikato tō mātou awa tūpuna Ko Ngāti Koroki Kahukura mātou Ko Maungatautari, ko Pōhara ōu mātou marae
Our mountain is Maungatautari Our ancestral river is Waikato We are Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Our marae are Maungatautari and Pōhara
Maungatautari is the sacred mountain of the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and Ngāti Hauā people. Ngāti Koroki Kahukura’s two marae, Maungatautari and Pōhara are on its flanks.
We acknowledge that others also have interests in the maunga, including Waikato, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Māhanga, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Ruru, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Werohiko, Ngāti Kauwhata and Panehākua. This is not an exhaustive list of groups that claim interests in Maungatautari. The many groups that connect to the maunga illustrate the iconic and spiritual importance that it has to our people.
We are a river iwi. Our relationship with our awa tupuna (ancestral river) has developed over centuries. It is a unique relationship in that our awa tupuna is the ancestral river of the people, which has its own mauri and spiritual integrity. Our spiritual and cultural well-being therefore is inherently linked to the well-being of our awa tupuna. The Waikato River is like the blood that streams through our bodies, it is the bloodline of our iwi and there is an urgent need to ensure that our awa tupuna is protected from further degradation. As an iwi who resides by its banks, we have over the generations, developed tikanga and a profound respect for our awa tupuna and all life within it.
Our tūpuna, the late Te Kaapo Tūwhakaea Clark stated:
“Spiritually the Waikato River is constant, enduring and perpetual. It brings us peace in times of stress, relieves us from illness and pain, cleanses and purifies our bodies and souls from the many problems that surround us…”
Te Kaapo is poignantly quoted regarding the price paid by Ngāti Koroki Kahukura in the Waikato River Report, a confidential working document prepared to assist the Waikato River negotiating team under the leadership of Dr Ann Parsonson, Historian;
“Unmentioned in the official account of the building of Karāpiro is an effect of the rising lake waters that caused particular distress to Ngāti Korokā-Kahukura of Maungatautari. Their burials were all along the banks of the Waikato River. As the dam at Karāpiro was completed and the River flooded in 1947, the kaumātua tried to ensure the safety of their wheua (bones), but the authorities did not listen.”
‘Our kaumātua Taupua Winikerei was one of those who tried to bypass the Public Works to look after our waahi tapu along the River. Nobody would listen to them, they were just there to do their jobs. The people had no mana, no strength to pursue this issue. When they flooded the river many wheua rose with the water. They had come out of the caves along the River gorge. Our people had to go onto the lakes and collect these bones. The same thing happened with the other waahi tapu. Instead of listening to our kaumātua they just moved part of it and flooded the rest. That was a hard time for our old people. The two rapids, Aniwaniwa and Karāpiro, and the rock has since been inundated by waters of the Karāpiro Hydro-Electric Dam. The damming of the river meant loss of land though flooding. Landmarks, the eel holes, and other food sources were also lost.’
That quiet statement says volumes about the sense of helplessness of the kaumātua trying to secure some protection for their tupuna in the face of the monocultural arrogance of a government department in the 1940s. Taupua Winikerei was a skilled worker on the site, one of the main workers on the flying foxes at Karapiro supported by a number of other Ngāti Koroki men who worked on the dam construction and lived in the dam village; but even with that sort of status on the project, he could do nothing.”
This dam covered a burial site of the battle of Taumatawiiwii, a wāhi tapu. To make matters worse, the top of the rocks that were used as a burial site was removed to allow for international rowing races.