NRAIT our korero

The Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust Board represents a hapū made up of unique members from two iwi, Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa. The members of the hapū are unique because they all descend from a key group of 109 tūpuna, the original owners of the Whakarewa lands in Motueka.

As a Trust today, we own, manage and nurture the land holdings on behalf, and for the benefit of the hapū. But we haven’t always been here, in fact we are a result of hundreds of challenging years. This is our story of how we got here.



The origins of our Trust lie deep within the history of our lands. On October 1841, a hui was held on the shores of Kaiteriteri beach involving 12 Motueka Chiefs and members of The New Zealand Company (the Europeans).

This was a defining moment in our timeline as it marked the day where a promise was made to us that a particular area of land, Te Maatu, would remain ours. The Europeans were granted the right to settle, but not to take all the land, and more certainly, this specific area of land.

It was 12 years later when the land was officially taken by Governor George Grey for the purpose of building a school. He made two Crown Grants to the Bishop of New Zealand, which saw the transfer of 1078 acres of our land that belonged to our ancestors in Motueka given to the Anglican Church. These lands become known as the Whakarewa Estates and the Trust established to manage the estate was known as the Whakarewa School Trust Board.

Although individual Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa descendants were recognised as being the rightful land owners, their permission and compensation was not sought or given for this land transfer, and so began our fight, our struggle and our hardship over the next five to six generations to have our tūrangawaewae returned to us.

We fought by way of submissions, petitions and deputations, which resulted in three major investigations into rightful land ownership.

Yet our lands continued to remain in the hands of Whakarewa School Trust Board.

In the early 1980s, the Ngāti Rārua Council brought up the issue of ownership of the land when the Whakarewa School Trust Board underwent yet another restructure. It was found that the way the property was being used at the time was not in line with what was stated in the Trust deed.

Finally, we started to make some ground. 

Support from many Pākehā and Māori people assisted the cause, and in the early 1990s dialogue opened between the Anglican Church and manawhenua tribes.


Whakarewa belongs to us

The efforts of our ancestors were rewarded in 1993 when the Honourable Doug Kidd sponsored a Private Members Bill to return the Whakarewa Estate to the rightful Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa ki Motueka descendants. Nearly 137 years later, the ownership of the lands and assets were returned to the descendants of the original owners, thanks to the passing of this bill. The act called the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust Empowering Act 1993, established the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust Board we have today.


Prospering but not forgetting

Just like the Whakarewa School Trust Board who had a deed to follow, we too have the same in the form of our Empowering Act. It sets out the purpose of the Trust and the nature of the benefits we provide to the owners of this land.

We separate our work into two sections – asset management and investment so that we can continue thriving and providing benefits to our owners, and the social and cultural arm which assists our owners in areas of education, sporting ambitions and cultural events. Our focus is to provide the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa ki Motueka hapū with a hand up to achieving their goals and aspirations.   

We are proud to be able to continue providing benefits to our members and ensure they have a great quality of life, while recognising the struggles of our tūpuna.

That’s why it’s important to continue telling this kōrero, so the next generation, and the generation after it, know what happened to our tūpuna, why Motueka is important to us as a hapū and to know that together, we are stronger.


To learn more about our kōrero you can read the history stories on our website, or read more from our blog.