Members of the new Te Oneroa-a-Tohe/Ninety Mile Beach Board say they have had a fascinating first-hand insight into the coastal treasure they are charged with managing.
Board chairman Haami Piripi and fellow board members gathered in Kaitaia last Friday for a workshop to discuss the board's legally mandated roles and functions and continue getting to know one another.
Mr Piripi said they also travelled up Te Oneroa-a-Tohe/Ninety Mile Beach to hear the history and some of the wealth of stories associated with it from a cultural perspective.
"We were also briefed by the Northland Regional Council and Department of Conservation staff about their associated work programmes and some of the pressures faced by the beach," Mr Piripi said.
The Te Oneroa a Tohe governance board was formed as part of Treaty settlements for four Muriwhenua tribes - Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri - and has control over the length of Ninety Mile Beach and 12 miles out to sea.
The board's membership is Mr Piripi (Te Rarawa), regional councillor Dover Samuels (deputy chair), Far North Mayor John Carter and his fellow district councillor David Collard, regional councillor Monty Knight, Ngai Takoto's Rangitane Marsden, Graeme Neho (Ngati Kuri) and Waitai Petera (Te Aupouri).
Mr Piripi said the workshop and beach visit provided invaluable insights into the taonga that is Te Oneroa-a-Tohe/Ninety Mile Beach and he's excited at the opportunity the board's formation offers.
He said the board will co-develop a management plan for the beach, which is important to Maori and non-Maori alike.
Mr Piripi, who is also Te Rarawa's chairman, said the workshop provided a good chance to build on an informal whanaungatanga day held at Roma Marae Ahipara this year and another opportunity to hear from each party involved first hand.