Parihaka mountain has become the first smokefree and vapefree maunga in Northland.
In what Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai described as a "wild, woolly, and wonderful" morning, a blessing was held at the summit of Mt Parihaka yesterday, officially declaring the mountain a smokefree and vapefree outdoor space on World Smokefree Day.
Whangārei District Council also launched its Smokefree Policy.
Kaumatua Winiwini Kingi, one of many descendants of the last paramount rangatira on Parihaka, said the maunga had historical mana and would always be a place of significance for the hapu and the connection to the whare tapu of Ngapuhi.
"Maunga Parihaka is a special maunga to the descendants of Ngati Kahu O Torongare through whakapapa. Making it a smokefree and vapefree maunga is about more than just a policy, it's about treating it as a taonga and preserving and respecting the mana of the maunga, as we are all caretakers nowadays," Kingi said.
Mai said the council was committed to the goal of Smokefree Aotearoa 2025.
"By declaring our taonga of Parihaka and the War Memorial smokefree and vapefree, we show we care for our people and our precious places."
Mai said reducing the numbers of people smoking when walking or cycling along Parihaka protected all visitors to the maunga from second-hand smoke, as well as other negative environmental effects, like the littering of cigarette butts and packets.
The day was the perfect time to launch council's Smokefree Policy.
"We know that there is a high level of public support for increased smokefree outdoor spaces. Our wider smokefree and vapefree vision includes protecting our natural environment, our mountains, bush, rivers, streams, beaches and land, to create an attractive and inviting region to live, visit and enjoy," Mai said.
"It's about education and empowerment. We know that 83 per cent of Whangārei adults don't smoke and most smokers are generally very considerate and won't smoke in smokefree areas."
Working with Northland District Health Board and the Cancer Society, Whangārei District Council was the first council in New Zealand to adopt and implement a comprehensive and wide-spread smokefree policy, that covers vaping in public places as well as smoking.
The council's Smokefree Policy increases smokefree and vapefree outdoor spaces from parks, playgrounds, bus shelters and sportsgrounds to include areas such as beaches, transport hubs, carparks, cycleways, public spaces in the central city, council-owned buildings and council-run events.
No Smoking and No Vaping signs and publicity will encourage the public not to smoke or vape in these places for a clean, healthy environment.
Rebecca Gilbert, Cancer Society Northland health promoter, said smokefree and vapefree areas protect all visitors and locals from the dangers of second-hand smoke, as even small amounts of exposure to tobacco smoke could be harmful to people's health.