The felling of the pou marking Te Rarawa's rahui at Tauroa Point had been "absolutely gutting," spokesperson Tui Te Paa said on Saturday, but they would be restored. In the meantime, the gate was re-erected at the top of the road leading down to Te Kohanga (Shipwreck Bay) on Friday, and would remain closed to all traffic until Sunday.

Ms Te Paa said the closing of the road was a direct response to the felling of the pou, an action that had dismayed Te Rarawa and strained relationships that the iwi worked hard to maintain.

Eight bikes, whose riders had been "donutting," had been "kicked off the beach," she added.

Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi had led karakia to make removing the pou from the shoreline safe, and they would go back up again, as often as was necessary, she said, while, with or without the pou, the rahui, which prohibited the taking of paua, would remain in place.


Ms Te Paa said closing the road was a non-aggressive way to communicate to the wider community that access to the coast was a privilege, not a right.

"People don't take notice until something directly affects them," she said, although manning the gate was "pretty taxing."

"We don't want to go on too long, but we want to convey the passion we have for this kaupapa," she said.

"First it was parties on the beach, then it was bikes, and now the pou.

"We don't think it was poachers who felled the pou," she added.

"We think it was someone who knew how much this would upset us. Someone who knew we would be devastated. But if they are cut down again we will put them back again, and the rahui remains in place with or without them."

New Zealand Surfing magazine had been very supportive of the road closure, she added, the reaction of many of the surfers who could not get to the beach on Saturday suggesting that they were aware of that support.