Boundary Stream & Bellbird Bush Scenic Reserves

Above: The Waharoa at Boundary Stream Reserve, carved by Kaumātua Bevan Taylor.

On 18 January 2017, our Hapū of Maungaharuru – Tangitū will gift Boundary Stream Scenic Reserve and Bellbird Bush Scenic Reserve to the people of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

For Ngāti Kurumōkihi, the Boundary Stream and Bellbird Bush Scenic Reserves and environs are integral to the distinct identity and mana of our Hapū. The importance of the Reserves derives from their position high along the eastern slopes of the Maungaharuru Range. Maungaharuru is the iconic, most sacred and spiritual maunga (mountain) of our Hapū.

The paramount status of Maungaharuru is recognised by our Hapū in mihi (greetings), whaikōrero (formal speeches), whakairo (carvings), kōwhaiwhai (painted panels) and tukutuku (woven panels) on our marae, whakatauākī (tribal proverbs), kōrero tuku iho (Hapū history) and waiata (songs).

Oral tradition recounts the migration of the waka Tākitimu southwards, and a tohunga (high priest) of the waka, Tūpai, who cast the staff Papauma high into the air. Papauma took flight and landed on the maunga at the summit of Tītī-a-Okura, at a place called Tauwhare Papauma. Papauma embodied the mauri of birdlife. The maunga rumbled and roared on receiving this most sacred of taonga (treasures), and the maunga was proliferated with birdlife. Hence the name, Maungaharuru (the mountain that rumbled and roared). It is also said that the mountain roared every morning and evening as the many birds took flight and returned again to the maunga.

Boundary Stream and Bellbird Bush Reserves are within the Ahu-o-te-Atua and Tarapōnui-a-Kawhea areas of Maungaharuru. Oral tradition describes Ahu-o-te-Atua (sacred mound of the Gods) as an altar where tohunga gathered to carry out their spiritual ceremonies.

Tarapōnui-a-Kawhea (the high peak of Kawhea enveloped with cloud), is the northern most and highest peak on Maungaharuru and is therefore very sacred. The name is ancient and dates from the excursions of Kurupoto and his son Kawhea into the area. Tarapōnui-a-Kawhea was once the regular track for our Hapū from Tūtira to Te Haroto through Waitara.

Boundary Stream and Bellbird Bush are some of the few areas of remnant and regenerating native ngahere (forest)on Maungaharuru. The Reserves are near Lake Opouahi; the Waikoau River and Boundary Stream flow within them, and Shine Falls is located in the eastern part of the Boundary Stream Reserve.

The ngahere has a range of vegetation and provides habitat for a large number of native birds. Many of these taonga (treasures) were traditionally harvested for a range of uses, including kai (food), rongoā (medicinal plants), clothing (including feathers for decorating garments and personal adornments), building materials, trade and gifting. Some of these taonga are still harvested today.

Our Hapū have cultural, spiritual, traditional and historic associations with the Reserves and their environs, waters, associated land and flora and fauna. Our Hapū have a responsibility as kaitiaki (guardians) in accordance with our kawa (rules) and tikanga (customs) to restore, protect and manage all those natural and historic resources and sites. This relationship is as important to present day whānau (families) as it was to our tīpuna (ancestors). The continued recognition of our Hapū, our identity, traditions and status as kaitiaki is entwined with Maungaharuru, including the Reserves and associated resources.