Ngahiwi Tomoana, chairman of Ngāti Kahungunu, speaks out about the zig-zag track that has been carved on Te Mata Peak.

Te Mata o Rongkako, Te Mata Peak, has huge ancestral, historical and future importance for Ngāti Kahungunu and, indeed, for all Hawkes Bayites.

So I was shocked returning from a meeting with the Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, and the Head of Treasury, Gabriel Makhoulf, on the Tukituki last Friday to see the Craggy Range side of Rongokako sliced and butchered by an ugly zigzagging track looking like an open sore.

"Pokokohua!" I yelled, which is the most serious of all Maori curses.


I felt stabbed through the heart. How could this clown act happen in this day and age?

Ngahiwi Tomoana leads a powhiri at the national kapa haka competitions earlier this year. Photo/Paul Taylor
Ngahiwi Tomoana leads a powhiri at the national kapa haka competitions earlier this year. Photo/Paul Taylor

Who gave permission? Who was consulted? Who would be insane enough to deface a regional and national landscape? Who is the fool on the hill?

My great-great grandmother Winipere Rotohenga was captured atop Rongokako by rifle-bearing Waikato warriors and marched off to Maungatautari to be a slave.

Before the women and children could be taken one of the women threw herself over the cliff while others grabbed mata, which is flint, and slashed themselves, their blood soaking into the ground.

"Take my body but my blood will remain in this land forever" was the catch cry at the time, which pertains to all of us Ngāti Kahungunu descendants. Our blood is in the land just as it was for our tipuna.

I had just related to the minister and his team this history and five minutes later I came across this obscenity. My immediate human instinct was to put a huge and intergenerational curse on everyone involved including the landowners, the promoters, the Hastings District Council planners and so on. Rotary? Trampers? Mountain bikers?

Lucky I don't, and can't, do curses.

I have been told the application was not publicly notified by the Hastings District Council - that not even the Maori Committee was informed.

Yet several years ago when I worked for the Hastings District Council the Craggy Range landscape and the silhouette of Te Mata o Rongokako was given the highest priority by the Hastings District Council as the number one outstanding landscape in the region followed by Cape Kidnappers.

Now it is ruined by an act of idiocy.

It still burns deep within the fact that my great-great grandmother was taken prisoner almost 200 years ago and that she cut herself deep to remind us of our kaitiaki responsibilities to protect our land. So it cuts deep that today this landscape vandalism is on my watch in our time.

It is not too late to stop any further development like handrails, steps, lights and gates. It is not too late to come and have a talk with us. It's not too late to start again.

We are solution-focused, we are a manaaki and giving iwi but at the moment we are mad.

Come and have a cup of tea with us because this should have been done long ago.

Kanohi ki te kanohi, pokohiwi ki te pokohiwi, ka ora te iwi.

Face to face and shoulder to shoulder, we can resolve any issue.
-Hawke's Bay Today