Mōrere Hot Springs & Reserve

Living on and in a property for 350 years and not exploring, traversing and not conversing what it has to offer seems unrealistic and ridiculous.

Surrounding well known and historic landmarks, Tunanui, Mangatoto, Whiorau, Mangariaki and Moumoukai all surround an undiscovered Ngawha source?

Too much to believe they “missed the plot” from the middle 1500s till discovered by Pakeha in 1884 nearly 300 years later.  Not from discoverers and keepers of the whenua, they would have known every nook and cranny.

Local history has told of ngawha and healing qualities contained, also of gas leaks that were used by Maori.

Histories and information were jealously guarded and passed down orally to would-be keepers till recorded by Pakeha settler R Sloan, ‘these springs have been known to the Maori for perhaps centuries.

Introduction and location:

Te Mōrere was named after an ancestor Warrior who had long loping strides and was at the centre of many battles.

Mōrere Scenic Reserve was founded by the eviction of Maori occupants (Ngāti Rakaipaaka Tribe) [1].

The Mōrere Hot Springs and Reserve is situated on the eastern side of State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Wairoa and contains native forest and hot springs. It is significant that there are thermal, biological, freshwater and historical resources to be found there. Local Maori developed mineral pools for bathing and sites for habitation and gardens. Kiekie which grew in the native trees was (and still is) a natural resource used for weaving. The forest was also home to birds (which were a food source) and the free-flowing river was home to tuna and other freshwater foods for locals.

The geothermal resources are a cultural heritage and a taonga of the Rakaipaaka Iwi. This area was investigated by geologists in the 1930s, and observations were made of the source of the springs [2]. Government analysts at the time acknowledged that these ‘springs’ contained an ‘important and valuable class of mineral waters’ which would be of high public value as a bathing area. In 1890, R Sloan recorded that ‘These springs have been known to Maori for perhaps centuries”; According to the time of Rakaipaaka settlement that was some 250 years prior, giving an approximate date of 1600-1650. The ‘bush’ area contains ‘scientific and botanical interest’ as the forest contains plant communities of the original coastal podocarp forests which were once common in the area. The forest area has nīkau palm, kohekohe and tawa with other emergent podocarps [3].

Beneath the canopy of these trees grows other species of particular value to local iwi, particularly kiekie which is a valuable weaving resource. These trees were also home to tui and kereru, (the kereru being a valued food source for local iwi until the practice was criminalized). The stream which flows through the reserve is home to shortfin eel and kōkopu, also delicacies to local iwi.

The reserve is also of historic importance as it has urupā and old pa sites within its boundaries. On the Northern and Southern sides of Te Mōrere, there is evidence of many uncovered graves [4].

The purchase of this area was gazetted in May 1865 with the Crown approximating that 120,000 acres had been alienated at Nūhaka [5].

1890 – 11,000 acres of Nūhaka North Survey District open for purchase, 585 acres set aside as a reserve.

In 1895 the Mōrere Springs was renamed the Nūhaka Thermal Springs Reserve[6]

In September 1895 ‘Thermal Springs Reserve’ was gazetted first as ‘Land temporarily reserved [7].

On 5 December 1895, the status of the area was upgraded to ‘Lands permanently reserved’ [8]

FOUND TREATY OF WAITANGI BREACHES BY THE CROWN:

The Crown breached Article 2 of the Tiriti by not allowing the whanau, hapū, Iwi to maintain their taonga tuku iho.

This is related to Regulations restricting local Iwi from the continuation of their traditional practices.

The clauses below under grievances indicate that it was a criminal act imposed on local Maori not being allowed to use the reserve resources for cooking.

Grievances:

The following grievances clearly prohibited Ngāti Rakaipaaka to continue practising their cultural and traditional practices.

Cultural harvests were prohibited of such indigenous flora as Kiekie, which was used for weaving clothing, mats, etc.

The late Marata Macgregor recollected her family’s use of the Mōrere forest in the 1940s when she was a child;

“In the summer, our kuia would go and collect kiekie in the Mōrere bush and took us along too. The day before we went, our nannies cooked kai that could be eaten cold for the next two or three days.  A fire in the bush could be seen by the ranger. While our kuia were collecting kiekie, we kids played amongst the trees, only stopping to take kiekie bundles to our camp or to eat. After 2 or 3 days, the sons of Nanny Kuki would return for us and the kiekie. During this time, the kuia were very busy weaving whāriki for Te Tāhinga and the Unity Hall”.

Source: Macgregor M. 2004′.Letter to the editor .’ Te Iwi o Rakaipaaka Inc. pānui 32; 3 (TIORI misc).

Institutionalized racism frequently portrayed tangata whenua with barbaric characteristics and was the basis for ongoing submissions to Crown Departments.

Often accepted with little real evidence – that local Maori and their use of the springs were incompatible with civic and tourist functions [9].

  • Rakaipaaka did not agree to the sale of the Mangaopuraka Block, (which includes the site of the Mōrere reserve). The claim is that Rakaipaaka had agreed to only sell the land up to the Nūhaka River mouth [10].
  • ‘Local Maori claimed that, if they intended to sell the land, they would have insisted that Native reserves be incorporated into the sale, but none were located in the disputed lands [11]
  • It is also noted that ‘the Taiwhenua o Te Wairoa and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rakaipaaka (WAI 300) also recorded a number of objections to the way in which the land came into Crown ownership, as well as its subsequent management’ [12].
  • Local hapū members wrote and sent letters of complaint to the Crown re. The Mōrere Reserve area. No acknowledgement of receipt of the ‘letter of enquiry’ sent in 1873, and more formal petitions in 1879 and 1881 re. This area[13].
  • Letters sent from Crown Lands Officials to local Iwi members ‘living in the reserve’ warning them to remove their ‘habitations and crops from the forest around the springs and to cease their cutting of trees[14].
  • January 1895. A public notice was posted prohibiting local Iwi (Natives) from lighting fires or cutting timber or camping at the reserve[15].
  • Regulations restricted local Iwi of the continuation of their traditional practices with using the natural resources of the reserve, i.e. use of geothermal –excavation around or diversion of the waters within thermal springs. the use of natural resources – extraction of earth, soil and rock, used in the dyeing of natural materials in raranga, and regulation prohibiting the willfully cast, throw deposit or place in or upon any such spring any live or dead animal or any animate or inanimate creature or thing [16] Failure of the Crown to ensure their responsibilities as kaitiaki to maintain the natural and ecological resources of the Mōrere Reserve, to a high standard.
  1. No protection mechanism implemented to prevent animals ‘from getting into the reserve and destroying foliage.’
  2. No active management at the reserve ‘to clear scrub and bracken fern’, to prevent fire risk in the dry season,
  • Failure to control the spread of ‘noxious flora and fauna’ [17].
  • 17th December 1902 Public notice issued ‘Regulations for the conservation of Thermal Springs’ 1897 to enforce the law.
  • Failure of the Crown to acknowledge local iwi were involved in the initial development of the springs as a bathing facility and so earn exemption from paying full fees to use the bathing facilities [18]

[1]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts
[2]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P9
[3]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P8
[4]Whaanga, Paora, 2012
[5]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P13
[6]New Zealand Gazette 1895
[7]Extract from the New Zealand Gazette 26.9.1895; 721534 (LS13146)
[8]Lands permanently Reserved’ – New Zealand Gazette 5.12.1895 – 891872 (LS13-146)
[9]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P34
[10]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P13
[11]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P13
[12]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P12
[13]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P13
[14]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County, P13
[15]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County .P29
[16]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County .P29
[17]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County .P29
[18]Coombes, Brad, 2005 Wairoa Ecological Impacts (1): Reserving the colonial nature-socio-cultural impacts and management of tourism, scenic and recreation reserves in the former Wairoa County .P41