Te Rarawa is taking steps to block motorbikes and offroad vehicles at Ahipara, to protect fragile sand dunes and sites of significance to Te Rarawa.

Te Takiwa o Ahipara spokesman Haami Piripi said conservation reserves returned via the iwi's Treaty settlement would be fenced off, and pouwhenua erected to tell the iwi's stories and connections to the whenua.

"Our colonial history here in the Far North has over time produced a relatively peaceful community, established upon the honour of our respective leaders sharing a nation as partners and expressed through Te Tiriti o Waitangi, signed in 1840 at Te Ahu in Kaitaia," Piripi said.

"The record shows that history has not been kind to iwi Māori, revealing a consistent theme of broken promises creating historic grievances and claims, many of which were resolved by the recent Te Hiku o Te Ika Treaty settlement process. That redress has added momentum to iwi and hapū influence, and turned the tide in the recovery of rights and interests that have lain dormant for over a century."

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Sand dune damage, which Te Rarawa is no longer prepared to tolerate. Photos / Supplied
Sand dune damage, which Te Rarawa is no longer prepared to tolerate. Photos / Supplied

For Rarawa and its affiliated hapū, the principle of "land returned for land lost" had resulted in the acquisition of several blocks of land, some of them coastal and culturally significant.

"This now empowers the tangata whenua and kaitiaki to exercise a stronger influence over caring for the environment," Piripi said.

"At Ahipara one of the most important issues facing us all is the damage being done to the sand dunes and inland beach areas by bikes and offroad vehicles. As the restored owners of key coastal blocks on the Tauroa Peninsular and Te Oneroa a Tohe (Ninety Mile Beach), we have now decided to act by erecting fences to prevent any further degradation and to restrict access to other vulnerable and ecological sites.

"As we fence areas off from vehicles, freedom biking and four-wheel-driving will become more and more restricted and controlled, which is our iwi and hapū objective. While we understand the impact that this may have on enthusiasts and recreational riders, we ask for the same level of tolerance that we have shown to our Pakeha friends, all visitors to our rohe for many years past."

The channels remained open for all parties to enter into dialogue, he said.