Navigating the planning process to assist tangata whenua in expressing cultural values and aspirations
Te Rūnanga o Koukourārata is the administrative council of Ngāti Huikai, who hold mana whenua over the Koukourārata (Port Levy) area in Banks Peninsula. The rūnanga are in the process of developing an area just north of the main township as a gateway to the adjacent Kakanui Conservation Reserve.
The rūnanga wanted to provide welcome signage which would explain to visitors the history of the area and signify the entrance to Kakanui Reserve. Our team assisted Te Rūnanga o Koukourārata to obtain resource consent for the installation of three interpretation panels on the site, which would welcome visitors, interpret the view from the site, and explain ancestral pou (carved posts) located near the panels. The three pou-whenua represent important ancestors of Ngāti Huikai and are surrounded by seating, paths and amenity planting.
Our cultural advisor and planning team prepared an assessment of environmental effects to support the resource consent application and concluded that the signage would complement the existing features and add positive amenity value to the area, with no adverse effects on the environment.
The interpretation signage now adds value to the area for both locals and visitors, contributing to the extensive ecological restoration and environmental management work within the bay by explaining the history and significance of the area and the activities being undertaken by the rūnanga within the reserve. The signs also provide a tangible link between the tangata whenua and their ancestral land, contributing positively to the development of the gateway to Kakanui Reserve.
Expressing the values and aspirations of tangata whenua and demonstrating its commitment to conservation, environmental restoration and sustainable development was a key driver for establishing the now completed interpretation panels, pou and reserve entrance area. In this way, the rūnanga has been able to help visitors make a connection between the land and the people, by improving knowledge and understanding of culturally significant sites and values.
Assessment of Effects on the Environment (AEE), preparing and presenting the resource consent application