The Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority was established to co-govern 14 Tūpuna Maunga following a 2014 treaty settlement. Two of those maunga are in the DTLB area and known by all as Takarunga / Mount Victoria and Maungauika / North Head. The authority is made up of equal representatives from Ngā Mana Whenua ō Tāmaki Makarau, representing 13 iwi, and Auckland Council, representing the wider community and all the users of ngā Tūpuna maunga.
I was selected to be one of the six Auckland Council members of the TMA rōpu and have been incredibly impressed by the vision and direction that has been set to administer the maunga on behalf of ngā mana whenua and all Aucklanders.
The maunga are a cornerstone of Auckland’s identity and if, like me, you live near one, you will love what it offers to your community; history, wairua, culture, peace. They’re stunning open spaces that connect us to the whenua (land), offering refuse from our busy urban environment, and rewarding us with unparalleled views of our city. Each one is individual and tells its own cultural and historical story through the remaining archealogical features such as rua (pits used for food storage), historic pā terraces once occupied by māori, and middens beneath the ground. For mana whenua they’re a vital link to their cultural heritage and the maunga will feature significantly in whakapapa. The word ‘tūpuna’ means ancestor, and indeed these volcanic cones are the ancestral mountains to our māori people. It is for this reason that the Tūpuna Maunga Integrated Management Plan isn’t a standard reserves management plan.
The principals that underpin the management and activity that takes place on our Tūpuna Maunga must take into consideration (with examples):
From my observations, where things can go awry in the execution of the integrated management plan, is when members of the community don’t understand these unique values that are applied to all decision making. A good example is when road access to Takarunga was stopped. When privileges that people have had for some time are removed, many will react. The tihi (top) of the maunga are sacred, and having vehicles drive to the tihi of the maunga is in total opposition to the values established in the integrated management strategy.
The other ‘hot’ topic with regards to the management strategy of the TMA is the removal of pest and exotic trees from the network of maunga. The intention of the TMA is to see maunga cloaked in native planting to support indigenous biodiversity. If accomplished they’ll be the only reserves in Tāmaki Makarau that are entirely native. To support this there has been huge amounts of work eliminating pests on the maunga, rats, plague skink & rabbits, so that maybe in the future, we could reintroduce endangered native species, and even experience moments like this.
In 2019 the TMA planted nearly 44,000 plants and trees across the network of maunga. Following what has been a long dry summer survival rates have been approximately 70%, which is just a bit shy of standard (typically 20-25% loss). In addition to the drought, the planting conditions presented by the maunga (often rocky areas) can make it more challenging for plants to survive. At times a unique planting methodology has had to be adopted to protect the archaeological features. This method is called ‘mound planting’ which involves cutting the bottom out of plastic plant containers and pegging the plants directly to the ground to take root. Once they’ve taken root the containers are cut away and covered in mulch. The plants that are selected for this process are natives that have less invasive roots, so that archaeological features are not compromised. This year 30,000 new natives will be planted and remedial works on the tracks will continue on a number of maunga. The mahi is good, and the long-term outcomes will be excellent.
At a later stage, when appropriate to do so, the TMA supports progressing a bid for UNESCO World Heritage status. This would be a globally recognized acknowledgment that the cultural and natural heritage of the Tūpuna Maunga are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration for all people of Auckland, be they mana whenua, matawaka, or any other person residing in our diverse and wonderful city.
Elected member of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for the 2019-2022 Election Term.