Old waka handed in to trust's care

By Mike Dinsdale, Mike Barrington

The Maori Land Court has made a decision on ownership of an old waka found in the Far North, but a ruling on ownership of a fragment of a basalt adze has been adjourned until next year.
The hand-adzed totara waka was found by Clayton Rogers when it was caught in a fishing net in September 2007 after being exposed by flooding in the Oruaiti River, which drains into Mangonui Harbour at the southern end of Doubtless Bay.
The fragment of adze was found by Department of Conservation historic ranger Andrew Blanshard on the beach below an archaic midden he was recording in July 2008 at Mahinepua, 12km north-east of Whangaroa.
As the waka and adze fragment are both more than 50-years-old, and are of Maori origin, they are classified as taonga tuturu under the Protected Objects Act 1975 and are, in the first instance, the property of the Crown.
The Ministry of Culture and Heritage decides who should have custody of such objects, and any interested party can claim ownership through the Maori Land Court.
Both the waka and adze fragment were reported to the ministry, which advertised for claims of ownership and these were considered by Judge David Ambler at a Maori Land Court hearing at Kaitaia.
The judge found the Te Matarahurahu hapu of Ngapuhi was the traditional owner of the 6.23m long, 0.64m wide and 0.23m deep waka, estimated to have been made for river use about 1935.
Ownership of the waka had been claimed by the Kenana-Te Ranginui Marae Trust and also by Curtis McNab, but Mr McNab's claim was withdrawn.
Judge Ambler vested possession of the waka with the Kenana-Te Ranginui Marae trustees for the time being.
Te Runanga o Whaingaroa had claimed the fragment of basalt adze, but did not attend the Kaitaia court hearing.

Judge Ambler wanted runanga representatives to have a chance to state their case, so he adjourned the hearing until the next available court sitting, expected to be in March.
- Kenana-Te Ranginui Marae Trust secretary Anne Batistich said the waka had been buried to preserve it.

- Northern Advocate

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