National | Ngāti Rangi

Iwi leaders ‘insulted’ by lack of consultation over skifield crisis

Ngāti Rangi leaders have described Ruapehu Alpine Lifts’ voluntary administration as an affront to the dignity and rangatiratanga of their iwi.

“We expected better,” Te Tōtarahoe O Pāerangi chair Whetu Moataane says.

“We cannot understate the profound significance to Ngāti Rangi of Matua te Mana, Ruapehu maunga, from which our iwi draw life, sustenance, and inspiration. We don’t just see him as a mountain, we see him as our koro, our grandfather.”

“Today as the stream of reporters drove past our tari at 1 Mountain Road, we were reminded that even with a Treaty settlement in place, media and ministers alike appear to forget their own law – namely Ahakoa haere te Karauna ki whea, ka haere hoki a Ngāti Rangi – that where the Crown goes, so goes Ngāti Rangi.”

Moataane says Ngāti Rangi has continued to have a presence within the ski field business, including constructing the towers for the chairlifts. And, since the 1995/96 eruption, Ngāti Rangi has led opening and closing karakia for the maunga.

The 2018 Rukutia Te Mana Treaty settlement recognises Ngāti Rangi and its rangatiratanga over Ruapehu and grants it a say in decisions.

'We could have talked'

Yet no consultation was made before or on Tuesday, Moataane says. “Not even a heads up.”

“Ruapehu didn’t even share the news with our Te Pae Toka committee,” Moataane says, referring to the partnership group for the maunga (directors and iwi leaders).

“We could have talked about what other avenues we could have potentially gone down to help Ruapehu Alpine Lifts. We could have had the conversation about our regional economy and the effects this will have on our region, in particular our businesses here in Ōhākune.”

The lack of communication and the apparent ignorance of the agreements by both Ruapehu Alpine Lifts and the Crown brings into question their very purpose, he says.

“When we go into a relationship with people, we adhere to our relationship. We have expectations of those who would go into relationships with us to be open and transparent.” Moataane says.

The iwi leaders are yet to meet with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts administrator John Fisk, saying they have made contact and hope to meet soon.