Public Rāhui and Road Blocks in Aotearoa:
Navigating Iwi/Hapū Perspectives and Mana Motuhake

During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been wide-spread public debates over public access for walkers, cyclists and vehicles in relation to the land rights and the safety of iwi/hapu (Māori tribes and sub-tribes) in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This includes checkpoints or road blocks set up by iwi/hapu in rural areas to stop the spread of the pandemic (Harris and Williams, 2020; Ngata, 2020), and the ongoing rāhui or temporary ban on all forms of public access in regional conser- vation forests by Te Kawerau ā Maki iwi of Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland to stop the growth of the ecological pest kauri dieback by visitors. This article reflects on the complexities of these bans by considering public responses to them, including settler politics, discourses of rights and free- doms, and white supermacy. Consideration is given to the perspectives of iwi/hapu themselves and contingent histories (for instance Te Kawerau a Maki, 2020). This is reflected on through mana motuhake (authority, self-determination and agency), alongside Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Māori per- spectives of the Treaty of Waitangi; Orange, 1987; Walker, 2004) and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge).

Mark is a researcher, a practicing artist, curator and conservationist. He is a Senior Lecturer/Pouako Matua in Creative Arts and Industries at The University of Auckland. His research has evolved into the spaces of arts and community advocacy in relation to ecological awareness and mātauranga Māori. Mark has a background in psychology, education, school teaching and has 29 years’ experience as an artist in public performance, live art and video. He has presented widely in international contexts such as the 2013 Venice Biennale for Visual Arts, The 2012 New Zealand Festival of Arts with Letting Space, projects with The Kauri Project, and many festivals and galleries in Europe and Aotearoa. He has published extensively in relation to the arts, public politics, and more recently mātauranga Māori, in a range of publications such as South (2012) and Convovarte (2018).

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