Research Project

He whakaneke a te hapori o Te Hāpua ki tētahi ara haumaru

Relocating Te Hāpua to safety as sea levels rise

The relocation of marae communities at threat from rising seas is a deeply complex issue. The Far North coastal community of Te Hāpua is vulnerable to rising sea levels. We stand to lose significant taonga, including our wāhi tapu, our whare karakia, our whare kōhanga reo and our papakāinga.

In this research, the collective iwi of Te Hāpua and of Muriwhenua Incorporation are drawing on the knowledge of our living kaumātua, as well as those who have passed on, to create a proactive climate adaptation plan. This plan will examine the possibilities for, and the tikanga surrounding, relocation.  

As seawater levels rise, our whenua diminishes. Our whenua is our connection to whakapapa, our mana, our kawa and tikanga, our reo and our tino rangatiratanga.

Many of our kaumātua in Te Hāpua and the Muriwhenua Incorporation have passed on. But significantly, they left behind newly discovered written records, observing sea level rise as well as other changes in coastal and marine patterns, in drinking water sources, and on our pātaka kai. They also made sketches for potential relocations to higher ground.

Image of urupa and ocean

We begin with acknowledging ngā atua in our kōrero relating to climate change. Non-Māori often don’t understand that all of our discussions and information gathering exercises, when it comes to climate change and climate adaptation, spring from and are contained within a unique ontology. Our kaumātua hold knowledge of tikanga and reo that must be allowed to be understood and reckoned with on its own terms.

With direction and strong leadership, and with the council of our kaumātua, it is also the responsibility of our younger generations to do the heavy lifting. We work together as one united whānau, as we aim to understand climate impacts and together decide on our responses.

We will collate our findings into a final report and use them to inform the design and implementation of a Muriwhenua Incorporation Response to Climate Change Plan.

This project in the media: