RUAWAIPU The Traditional Tribe Of The East Coast  
 
 
The Potaka  Marae Hatchery
 
 
 
 
 
  “Maori consciously chose such property rights over customary landholding patterns. They were promised certainty of boundaries, of title against conquest, transferability, and exclusive enjoyment. On their own property even the monarch could not intrude, absent hot pursuit or a warrant given by independent judges … I have great sympathy for East Cape’s Potaka Marae. They want to build fish farms on their land. They should be free to do that as long as they avoid nuisance to neighbours or to the commons. Local government’s power to stop them is a breach of the Treaty and an infringement of their ownership rights.” [Stephen Franks Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference: Session 6, 15 April 2004].  

 

The Potaka (Te Whanau a Tapaeururangi)  hatchery was built in support of donations and volunteers from the Ruawaipu Tribal Authority (Quentin Goldsmith, Bill Te Kani, Bob Kaa, Barney Dewes, Mate oho rere Manuel, Jason Koia, Reg Akuhata Rangihuna, Willie Evans, Henry Akuhata, Tom Akuhata, Terence Rangihuna, Wairata Te Oneone, Arnold Dewes & Tahito McClutchie) without government authority in  February 2004, as a result of the Foreshore and Seabed response by the government towards tangata whenua.

 
  The building still stands defiant today under Article II of Tiriti o Waitangi pre-common law rights. Ahi kaa leaders such as Hira & Kerry Kururangi, Taha Kemara, and  Matekino Smith have stood the test of time with the wider whanau of Tapaeururangi and descendants.  
  The intention of the hatchery was simply to prove hapu rights prevailed and that the foreshore and seabed legislation could not override such rights. An opportunity from Awanuiarangi to develop an education programme has been missed due to the hatchery being “a hot potato” that no government authority wanted to deal with.  
  The hatchery became national and international news and an “icon” for self-determination. Supported by the Maori Party the hatchery has withstood a barrage of obstacles such as;  
 
  • Police intervention and arrests
  • A failure for the Human Rights Commission to Inquire
  • A failure for the Governor General to inquire
  • A failure for the Minister of Maori Affairs to inquire
  • A failure for the Maori Land Court to inquire
  • An intention by Local Government to fine Potaka Marae $200,000.00 and $20,000.00 per day under the new Building Act 2004
  • Division amongst hapu members who were led to believe the hatchery was illegal as a result of the above.
 
  There are various visions intended, namely  
 
  • To reseed and put back stocks depleted by the QMS for Maori and Pakeha.
  • To educate and train with our methodologies and cultural values.
  • To empower hapu to manage their resources economically, socially and politically.
  • To set a precedence for hapu independence. 
 
  The Maori Land Court Chief Judge is recommending the hatchery be dealt with in the Waitangi Tribunal (although the Tribunal has no binding powers and the Chief Judge is also the Chair of the Tribunal) . The Potaka hatchery is at present a tino rangatiratanga case study for the East Coast Inquiry Casebook Report on Local government Issues.  
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