The new Te Oneroa a Tohe (90 Mile Beach) Board got off to what Te Rarawa representative Haami Piripi described as an auspicious start on Tuesday morning, with a special gathering and karakia on the beach at Ahipara.
Attended by key support agencies for the new board, speakers acknowledged the four iwi (Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Te Rarawa) that will be working in collaboration with local bodies to achieve a united approach to managing the beach as a community resource.
Mr Piripi said the application of tikanga Maori alongside the statutory functions of the local councils would provide a new approach to understanding the beach in an authentic way, while incorporating Maori history and knowledge into practical environmental management.
There were some immediate issues for the board to address, including the plight of the toheroa and the impact and control of vehicular traffic on the beach itself. Over recent years beach safety in terms of traffic had become an issue of great concern and that would be a priority for the Maori members of the board.
A beach management plan would be developed over the next 10 months, and for the first time activities on the beach would be decided upon according to that plan.
"Perhaps the greatest outcome of the new board will be its regeneration of the spirit path (Ara Wairua) and its importance to the region and all Northlanders," Mr Piripi added.
A full agenda would be discussed when the board convened early next year.