David Perenara-O’Connell of Kaitorete Limited and Minister for Research, Science and Innovation, Hon Megan Woods, announced a project to secure the future of one of Waitaha’s iconic landmarks in June 2021.
Environment Canterbury Chair, Jenny Hughey, welcomed the news. "Kaitorete Spit at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is the 25km stretch of coast that encloses the lake, and it carries very high cultural and ecological significance for Papatipu Rūnanga and the people of Canterbury.
"Project Tāwhaki secures the environmental future of the area while also optimising economic and research and development opportunities in an exciting Māori-Crown partnership. It offers a win:win for the Crown and for Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga through the joint venture, and a win for the people of the region who will see the biodiversity and cultural values restored in this area that is so important to us."
Joint venture partnership
Project Tāwhaki is a partnership between Kaitorete Limited (Te Taumutu and Wairewa) and the Crown. The joint venture partnership will purchase critical parcels of land (1,000 hectares) near Banks Peninsula. The Crown has contributed $16 million to secure the land. The Crown and the Rūnanga will each own 50 percent shares in the land and project.
The name Project Tāwhaki, chosen by the partners, draws on the Ngāi Tahu ancestral connection to Tāwhaki, a demi-god from Ngāi Tahu pūrākau/stories who sought celestial knowledge from his gods. Tāwhaki was able to navigate his journey by seeking and building strong relationships, by being adaptive and innovative and using his sheer tenacity to keep going until he reached his goal.