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wĀhi tŪpuna

Wāhi Tūpuna means a place important to Māori for its ancestral significance and associated cultural and traditional values.

Kāi Tahu whānui have travelled, lived and used resources in the Waitaki District for many generations and have historical and cultural connections with land, waterbodies and resources across the district. Their whakapapa and traditions are embedded in the landscape. They have enduring rakatirataka rights in regard to ancestral lands and resources and kaitiakitaka responsibilities to protect and sustain the values associated with these areas and resources.

Mana whenua regard the whole of the Waitaki District as ancestral landscape, but they have identified a number of areas of particular significance due to the concentration of wāhi tapu or taoka values, or the importance of the area to cultural traditions, history or identity. These areas are referred to as Wāhi Tūpuna.

Wāhi Tūpuna sites and areas have been mapped in the draft District Plan to identify those of significance to Mana whenua. They reflect the association of landscapes with people and the values inherent within these relationships. The records of these values are informed by written, oral and archaeological history, memories, ancestry, and traditional activities. By mapping them and incorporating them into the District Plan, it will help to appropriately manage and protect these sites.

Council have worked closely with Kāi Tahu to inform this section of the plan, and they have assisted by mapping out areas of significance across the District.

The Waitaki District Council is required under the RMA and the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 to recognise and protect Māori heritage and the relationship of Māori with their ancestral lands, water, Wāhi Tapu sites and other taoka

We identified key issues facing Wāhi Tūpuna in the Waitaki:

► The cumulative effects of land use change and inappropriate land use and development on Wāhi Tūpuna, wāhi taoka sites, mahika kai, indigenous biodiversity and the coastal environment;

► Historically, recognition of kaitiakitaka in resource management processes and decision making has been limited;

► Loss of access to wāhi taoka sites, and to mahika kai and kaimoana resources and the loss of the ability to pass on mahika kai traditions;

► The utilisation of Māori land is constrained by policy that does not take into account the multi-ownership nature of the land.

We then drafted responses to these key issues:

► Kāi Tahu’s role as kaitiaki is recognised. Kāi Tahu is engaged in resource management decision making processes in the spirit and intent of the Treaty of Waitangi and RMA;

► Development is holistic in approach and, protects Kāi Tahu cultural values and protects Wāhi Tūpuna in a culturally appropriate manner;

► Adverse effects on Kāi Tahu values in the coastal environment caused by inappropriate coastal land use, subdivision and development are avoided;

► The relationship of Kāi Tahu with their ancestral land is recognised through the provision for Papakāika housing on general title land within the original native reserves;

► Adverse effects on wāhi tapu and other sites of cultural heritage value as a result of inappropriate land-use, subdivision and development are avoided;

► The general public has better access to information about statutory and non-statutory tools and processes for managing discoveries of taoka, accidental or otherwise.

We are now developing a draft chapter that will shape how we protect these areas in our district. The chapter will be available when we release our entire draft district plan later this year for community feedback. In the meantime, here is an overview of what we have done in response to the key issues.

Overall Objectives

The objective of protecting Wāhi Tupuna is to maintain the rakatirataka of mana whenua over their significant sites and kaitiakitaka

General Rules

The new rules will allow appropriate activities where the values of Wāhi Tūpuna are protected.  Activities such as larger buildings and structures, agricultural intensification, mining, quarrying, plantation forestry, planting of wilding conifer species, indigenous vegetation clearance and some earthworks within Wāhi Tūpuna may need a resource consent.

How does a Wāhi Tūpuna affect me?

If your property has been identified as being located within a Wāhi Tūpuna site, this will generally not affect you unless you’re proposing to undertake activities that could damage the values of the site.  This could include large new buildings, exotic tree planting, agricultural intensification, indigenous vegetation clearance, earthworks, mining or quarrying.  For these activities, a resource consent may be needed.


Wāhi Tūpuna: Areas of significant value to mana whenua.

Kāi Tahu whānu: Kāi Tahu Whānui means the collective of individuals who descend from the primary hapū of Waitaha, Ngāti Mamoe, and Ngāi Tahu, namely Kāti Kurī, Kāti Irakehu, Kāti Huirapa, Ngāi Tuahuriri, and Kai Te Ruahikihiki

Whakapapa: Genealogy, cultural identity 

Rakatirataka: The mana or authority to exercise the relationship between Kāi Tahu and their culture and traditions with the natural world, includes the active involvement of mana whenua in resource management decision making process

Kaitiakitaka: The active protection and responsibility for natural and physical resources by mana whenua

Wāhi Tapu: Sacred sites or areas

Taoka: Treasured possessions, including water, air, land and indigenous biodiversity