Village in new hands

KERI MOLLOY
Last updated 08:31 22/11/2012
village

REWA'S VILLAGE DISPLAY: A chief’s family enclosure. The walls are made from raupo, the framing from manuka, lining from toetoe, the thatch from nikau palm fronds and beds from shrubby material.

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The Rewa's Village lease will be handed over to Ngati Rehia on December 1 in a significant and historical event for tangata whenua.

Ngati Rehia spokesperson Nora Rameka says the hapu is excited and sees huge opportunities ahead.

Ngati Rehia has been working hard for more than a decade to achieve a Maori face in the basin.

A karakia and blessing will take place at 6am on December 1, followed by a signing ceremony at 8am at Whitiora Marae at Te Tii.

The occasion involves Ngati Rehia, the Department of Conservation and the Society for the Preservation of the Stone Store Area which has managed Rewa's Village for more than 40 years, as a volunteer-run operation.

The transfer of the lease to Ngati Rehia flows from the Kerikeri Basin Liaison Group - a DOC-formed group which had the mandate to run the Kerikeri Basin and formulate a sustainability plan. Ngati Rehia put a strong case that, as tangata whenua, it should represent Maori interests in the basin.

"This is huge for the whole community, for Ngati Rehia and for Ngapuhi. And it is a huge achievement for Ngati Rehia. We have been working on this for many many years. There has been a whole lot of planning with the key stakeholders. We have exciting plans and we want to get things right," Mrs Rameka says.

On the day Ngati Rehia will be acknowledging the Society for the Preservation of the Kerikeri Stone Store Area.

The society was born in 1969, out of opposition to a large subdivision approved for the basin. It succeeded in its aim of fostering the purchase of land in the area by the government and ensuring the area was preserved.

Len and Betty Coates led volunteers in building a replica pre-European Maori fishing kainga, Rewa's Village, on land rented for $1 a year from the late Nancy Pickmere.

The village opened in January 1970 and the society has continued to run it as an outdoor museum - popular with tourists and school groups.

The society asked the Auckland Memorial Museum for an independent assessment on the value of the village after the destruction of the 1981 big flood. The report was positive and resulted in information boards placed around the village and an honesty box for payments.

The village was managed by volunteers and more than $200,000 was raised by the society. It continues to offer an annual scholarship to encourage improvements to the basin.

"But younger people are not available for volunteer work at Rewa's Village. Many of our members are past working age," chairperson Yvonne Robinson says.

Changes at Rewa's Village include the visitor's centre, completed in 1992, and the Discoverers Garden, planned and built by Brian Proudley as a millennium celebration.

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