Morgan Godfery:

In Whakatāne, another Ihumātao is in the making

OPINION: Property developers in Whakatāne, a lifestyle town in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, plan to build a rest home over an ancient graveyard.

To an ordinary person that plan seems, at best, distasteful and, at worst, malicious. Who would send their parents or grandparents to live atop the bones of other people? Yet MMS GP Ltd, the developer, with resource consent from the Whakatāne District Council, intends on proceeding anyway.

So 240 residential allotments, several roads, and an almost 9-hectare rest home lot will take shape adjacent to one of the oldest known urupā (cemetery) in the Bay of Plenty: Ōpihi Whanaungakore.

The earliest Polynesian arrivals would often bury their dead near the coast, resting comfortably beneath the pīngao (golden sand sedge) and their sand dunes. Random digging in Kāwhia, a settlement on the Waikato’s west coast, and the final resting place for the Tainui waka, sometimes uncovers centuries-old human remains in the dunes. The diggers usually do their duty, reporting their finds and returning the bones to the care of the local iwi and the earth.

Link to article: Morgan Godfery: In Whakatāne, another Ihumātao is in the making | Stuff.co.nz


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