It's the home of some of Ngāpuhis' most famous leaders, today the Waitangi Tribunal began a week long hearing in Utakura, Hokianga with elders urging their people to remember who they really are.
Land loss is at the crux of the claim being laid down by Te Popoto elder, Hokimate Painting.
Painting says“It’s important that the descendants of our chiefly ancestors remain steadfast in their claims with an impetus on addressing the issue of Māori sovereignty and self-governance. No one else can remedy it but us and we must unite to do that.”
This is the fourth hearing of the tribunal in Hokianga since hearing the vast claims of Te Paparahi o Te Raki began six years ago.
Patu Hohepa of Te Mahurehure says, many chiefs from Utakura signed Te Tiriti and fought for the self-governance of Hokianga, the likes of Aperahama Taonui and his father Makoare Taonui and their elder Muriwai, (Tamati Waka) Nene and Patuone, they all have ties to this place.
Local elders say they have noticed a difference in the stance of the current generation to that of their ancestors.
Hokimate Painting says, “It’s not a dream or aspiration, the real challenge here for Ngāpuhi is the stand up. We need to return to their stance on these issues, and not allow ourselves to be dominated or misled by others. It’s something we must retain within our hearts and minds, that we are not dogs (creatures) and shouldn't allow ourselves to be treated as such.”
Families at this hearing are being urged to remember who they really are.