Located a 50-minute drive from Ōtautahi-Christchurch, Kaitorete whenua comes with rich history and is a significant taonga to Wairewa Rūnanga and Te Taumutu Rūnanga.

Kaitorete was used by the ancestors as a site of rest during travels, as well as a tool making site where many of our famous pounamu were manufactured. It’s a place of abundant resources like kai (tuna, pātaki) and harakeke, but also home to native plants and wildlife.

Now, it’s a taonga and we look forward to applying creative and innovative thinking as we build enduring opportunities.

The Tāwhaki Joint Venture was formally established in May 2021 as a partnership between mana whenua (Wairewa Rūnanga, Te Taumutu Rūnanga) and the New Zealand Government. At the heart of Tāwhaki are two kaupapa: to heal and rejuvenate the unique whenua at Kaitorete, and advance Aotearoa’s aerospace industry.

“The vision for Tāwhaki is to enable us to restore our whenua,” Tāwhaki spokesperson David Perenara-O’Connell said.

“We can rejuvenate our communities, both at Taumutu and Wairewa, and provide an opportunity for whānau to come back to their kainga through employment and education, and be more connected to Kaitorete.”

“With our combined effort we will ensure Tāwhaki becomes a positive legacy for our children and our children’s children.”

Tāwhaki is an “exciting pathway” for the Papatipu Rūnanga as space isn’t a foreign topic for Māori, but a kōrero of revival.

“Our forebearers were ocean navigators and discovery brought them here to this land, guided by the stars.

“Tāwhaki provides a great opportunity to call on that ancestral knowledge, mould it with what we know today and think about the opportunities that lie ahead.”

A whenua blessing was held to mark the new beginning and launch of the partnership, and mana whenua celebrated the land being in their ownership again. They were joined by the wider community of ministers, councillors, and industry partners.

The name Tāwhaki, was chosen for our unique kaupapa as it speaks to the history, the future, and is at the heart of what this partnership is all about. Ngāi Tahu pūrākau tells the story of the demi-god Tāwhaki who sought celestial knowledge from his gods in searching out the pathway, being adaptive and innovative and using his sheer tenacity in climbing to the highest of heavens.

Watch the whenua blessing here.