The water tower is gone, but the future of the land it sat on in Kihikihi is still to be determined.
Bill Harris, chairperson of Ngāti Apakura Runanga Trust, says the land the tower was built on in the Turata Reserve was Maniapoto whenua, taken under the Public Works Act.
The 74-year-old water tower was removed by council in March. It had not carried water for several years, and was Kihikihi’s first European water source.
During a Service Committee meeting last week, Harris asked council whether any thought was “being given to the return of that piece of land, and perhaps its connection to the Rewi Maniapoto Reserve Trust.”
Currently, the adornments of the Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve, which is opposite Turata Reserve, are being cared for by Maniapoto.
Harold Maniapoto of Maniapoto ki Te Raki, indicated to The News that mana whenua wish to discuss a similar arrangement with council, regarding the Turata land.
The council’s current plan is to use the land as a greenspace, and it is planned to install picnic seats there. “No consideration has been given to returning the land to mana whenua at this point in time.
The staff’s focus to date has been the water tower removal and installation of the new assets,” Community Services manager Brad Ward told The News.
In June 2020, Waipā District Council voted to change the name of the reserve to Turata, from Rata-tu, which it was incorrectly called at the time. However, the reserve’s signs still use the old name.
“We are still waiting on final formal confirmation of the name from Ngā Iwi Tōpū ō Waipā before the signs are manufactured,” Ward said.