Te Rūnanga Pākaitore began a 79-day occupation of Moutoa Gardens in 1995. This was remembered at the Pākaitore Celebrations over the weekend where trained volunteers, who have collated an oral history of the occupation from 45 interviews, updated their progress.
Memories rekindled with heavy hearts, teary eyes, and mixed emotions at the Pākaitore Celebrations remembering the Moutoa Gardens occupation.
Ken Muir says, "The occupation of Moutoa Gardens was intended to restore the mana of the Whanganui people over the site, our sacred river and all the land in this region."
"Our role was to protect our kuia, our kaumātua, to protect our pēpē, to protect our tikanga and to celebrate our uniqueness as a people," explains Tamara Smith from Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi.
Te Tai Hauāuru MP, Adrian Rurawhe, recalls the eviction day, saying, "The day police were sent in with an eviction notice ordering us to vacate this area."
Mereana Waitai says, "It was very moving for us as a people to hear the stories, to see our nannies sitting on the floor and just crying, crying over what had happened to us."
A progress report was also presented at the gathering into the collation of oral accounts of the occupation through interviews with Māori, Pākehā, council, churches, police, politicians, media and people working and living near the riverside gardens.
Mereana Waitai explains, "Everyone has a story, some good, some not so great, everyone has a story and it was looking at the impact of that story right throughout the community."
'Families have come to remember those who have passed on since then and the survivors, and to talk face-to-face about the issues of today," describes Rurawhe.