Regional | Ngāti Whakaue

Mana Motukawhe dream stymied by red tape

An Ōhinemutu couple with big dreams and aspirations for their whānau and their community say Rotorua Lakes Council regulations are hindering them.

Keziah Kapea (Ngāti Whakaue) and her husband Te Arahi Kapea (Ngāti Whātua) have opened a coffee cart, named Mana Motukawhe, for business this week from their home in Ōhinemutu village.

The Kapea whānau dream is to be situated on the side of the lakefront near Ōhinemutu Pā, as there is a lot of traffic flowing through there. The more traffic flow the couple are able to reach, “the more we can do for our people,” Te Arahi says.

But they are asking why is it so difficult to start a business on Ngāti Whakaue land.

Te Arahi asked the council about a lakefront spot for the coffee cart and expected some consideration for them being mana whenua since Keziah is a member of Ngāti Whakaue, the tribe that gifted hundreds of hectares of land when Rotorua was established.

Mana Motukawhe halted by Rotorua Lakes Council...for now.

Flooded with support

However, that does not seem to be an option the council considers.

In a statement Rotorua Lakes Council says Te Arahi was advised to apply for a concession to operate at Kuirau Park and/or Puarenga Park. "He was also advised that at this time there are two concessions for businesses to operate at the lakefront which are already in place following a tender process. He was informed that further concessions may be considered once the redevelopment that is still currently underway at the lakefront is complete and that Mana Motukawhe would be added to the list of interested parties for any potential future tender process."

The Kapeas say Mana Motukawhe has had other businesses reach out to it, asking how they can help, which Keziah sees as “being really cool, especially from other Māori-owned businesses as they have said to us that they really want to support local, and how can we help you?”

The couple has been flooded with support from whānau, friends and the community.

One of their supporters Trevor Maxwell, who is the Kai Kaunihera Wāri Māori says he knows processes take a while and he carefully encouraged the couple to be patient.

Delighted locals

“I did advocate for them some weeks before the election but the timing wasn’t great for us because we were in limbo.”

Maxwell says he is proud of the couple and only wishes them success in their journey.

Other local supporters include Māori health provider Takarei Hikuroa-Peck from Manaaki Ora who like the short-distance walk from his office with his co-workers to buy coffee, tea, and ice chocolates from Mana Motukawhe.

“The business in Ōhinemutu is a great idea, and the beauty of it is it’s a Māori business,” Hikuroa-Peck says as he sips on his Chai tea.

The couple’s neighbour, Lani Kereopa, who is the Kai Kaunihera Wāri Māori, had shared “this is mana whenua, within our pā. It is better than people jumping into cars and driving into town to go and buy coffee from a multi-national corporation like McDonald’s”.

Kereopa praises the couple’s work and hopes to link with them and add products such as fresh fruit and vegetables from the pā māra as the Kapea business grows.

Rotorua Lakes Council says further concessions may be considered and Mana Motukawhe will be added to a list of interested parties for any potential future tender process. The Kapea whānau hope to sit down and have a good talk with the council to break down more of those barriers.