Ngati Rangi keen for cultural use clarification

      Ngati Rangi is keen to engage with the Department of Conservation to avoid future misunderstandings about the cultural use of dead kereru provided by DOC Kereru meat which had been frozen was mixed with chicken and miro berries and fed to guests attending a hui at Maungarongo marae in 2013.

     Ngati Rangi spokesperson Che Wilson said the iwi approached DOC for clarification of the department’s definition of cultural use, as soon as they became aware that questions were being raised about how the birds had been used. Mr Wilson said conservation has always been a key priority for Ngati Rangi and the iwi is keen to continue its work with DOC on conservation issues.

From the Department...
     The protected wood pigeons were served at a Ngāti Rangi hui of iwi leaders and government ministers at Ōhākune's Maungarongo Marae in 2013. The incident came to light following the controversy surrounding Ngāpuhi leader Sonny Tau being charged with hunting and possessing kererū.

     Ngāti Rangi spokesperson Che Wilson said his iwi initially approached DOC to have a kōrero and get some clarification around the department's definition of cultural use, after questions were raised about how the dead birds were used. According to tikanga (custom), kererū were, mainly in pre-European times, always served to important manuhiri (guests) and especially leaders. Mr Wilson said Ngāti Rangi thought it was doing the right thing by honouring its guests after DOC handed them five dead birds. "We used the features and we also used the carcass and thought it was appropriate to serve it at such an important hui," Mr Wilson said. "We're actually surprised about the fuss because we thought we were doing the right thing because they'd been given to us by DOC."

     But the department's director-general, Mike Slater, said DOC did not have any record of authorising dead kererū for consumption. However, Mr Slater said that the department was continuing to talk with Ngāti Rangi about possible misunderstandings around dead birds provided locally for other cultural purposes.

     Mr Wilson acknowledged that the birds were protected under the Wildlife Act but he said the iwi's understanding was unclear. He said conservation had always been a key priority for Ngāti Rangi and the iwi was keen to continue its work with DOC on conservation issues. The Wildlife Act allows DOC to authorise the taking of protected species for cultural and traditional purposes, such as the use of feathers in cloak weaving. It also authorises the transfer of dozens of birds to local iwi each year. 
In the meantime, DOC said it was not taking legal action against the marae. The Department of Conservation (DOC) will be meeting with a Ruapehu iwi to avoid future misunderstandings about the cultural use of dead kererū.
See the DOC media release HERE