Whakatōhea Iwi Interests - Whakatōhea Vision Brought to Reality

Daniel Paruru - IIRC20
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Whakatōhea Iwi is located in the Eastern Bay of Plenty community of Ōpōtiki. Although there are over 15,000 registered members, only 10% of its people reside at home. With decades of change due to the significant impacts of colonisation and the urban drift, the Whakatōhea future seemed bleak. However, with over 30 years of visioning, planning, and implementation – major developments are currently under way in Ōpōtiki.

Due to land confiscations in the 1860’s Whakatōhea was left with very little land, therefore the iwi looked to the sea for inspiration, and the dream for an open ocean mussel farm off Ōpōtiki’s coastline was created. Nearly 4,000 hectares of water space was granted to Whakatōhea for development, and in 2020 a large portion of that space has been developed that will eventually become the biggest mussel farm in the country.

To get the projects off the ground, the Provincial Growth Fund has injected millions into the community to support the Whakatōhea Mussels factory, and a new all- weather port at the Ōpōtiki Harbour. The mussel industry will boost the local economy creating up to 350 new jobs.

Maintaining Whakatōhea mana motuhake (self-determination) is integral and Whakatōhea has guided these developments in keeping with Tikanga (tribal practices). Cultural values assessments have been created to ensure Whakatōhea actively upholds its responsibility as Kaitiaki (guardians) over its natural resources, and ensures that the physical, natural and spiritual realms are at peace with each other. Commercial development can challenge that process and our people are determined to ensure these projects do not diminish the Mauri (life energy).

We now have the opportunity to look at the next 30 years and to ensure that our people are involved in all levels of development of these projects. We hope to engage our traditional knowledge systems to create a Moana Plan, that will help hapū (sub tribes) and iwi to prepare and plan for the future. This will ensure that we have a sustainable natural resource, while creating commercial opportunities for our people.