Descendants of Matakarapa, the ancestral home of Ngāti Raukawa hapū, are calling on the government to restore the Manawatū River flow through the Foxton Loop.
In 1942, the government put a trench in the track to address flooding issues in the area. However, due to a major flood during the operation, the trench caused more damage.
Foxton has been missing decent water flow from the Manawatū River for many years now, and due to government actions, what once used to be a healthy river is seen now as toxic waste, says Te Kenehi Teira, of Ngāti Raukawa.
"The government put the cut through then basically left our people on an island with no power, no water, none of those things that other people could have in the town."
With no continuous flow through this river, sediment and pollution have taken their toll on the area, says the hapū.
Justin Tamihana, of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Kuia, says, "There are many consents in place that add pollutive entities to our awa and so today we are unable to gather our kai for our people, for our marae and so our food basket has been completely depleted."
The hapū believe the government needs to rectify the actions that took place in 1942 before the situation gets worse.
Robin Hapi from Save Our River Trust says, "Unless the government comes to the party then this is going to deteriorate even further and the toxic experience that we've got with the river at the moment will become worse."
Tamihana says the commercial sector also needs to get on board and help with the restoration.
"Those that have used our awa as a dumping ground, and obviously the regional and districts council, have a responsibility also to put some resourcing towards restoring our awa to the magnificent place that it once was," says Tamihana.
Restoring the Manawatū River is a dream for the descendants of Ngāti Raukawa and they say government action needs to be meaningful so that future generations can enjoy the taonga again.
Te Ao Māori news are working to get comment from the government in response to the calls made by the Ngāti Raukawa hapū. More to come.