Gifting of 11 Mission Street a ‘sweet deal‘

Otamataha Trust chairperson Puhirake Ihaka speaking at the commemorative event last Friday. Photo: Emma Houpt.

The transfer of land at 11 Mission Street is being described “momentous” occasion that will improve realtionships.

Community members came together last Friday, July 3, to commemorate the land being gifted back to mana whenua from the previous owner, Tauranga City Council.

The Tauranga City Council voted in favour of transferring the ownership to the Otamataha Trust in December last year.

The Otamataha Trust will rent land to the Elms Foundation for $1 a year.

Otamataha Trust chairperson Puhirake Ihaka addressed the crowd on Friday, saying the “momentous” occasion will help the trust move forward in their relationship with the Elms Foundation.

"We forge a future in terms of how we are going to use this place and move forward together in our relationship.”

He described 11 Mission Street as a "small place, but absolutely immense in its symbolic significance".

The Otamataha Trust, which was created in 2014, administers property in Tauranga on behalf of Ngati Tapu and Ngai Tamarawaho.

Elms Foundation trustee Alan Withy says it's important to acknowledge the historical significance of this area.

"There was a massacre in this area and this place was tapu. That part of history has not gained a lot of ear space."

He looks forward to the eventual creation of a heritage area in and around 11 Mission Street.

"It is a very significant step forward which has been travelled in true bicultural fashion."

Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell says 11 Mission Street is a very “special, spiritual place to be”.

“It is right that we are sitting here today, and I hope we can grow from this. It is about forgiveness and it is about moving forward – but moving forward together.”

Historian and iwi leader Buddy Mikaere says this occasion brings the story of 11 Mission Street out into the light, “so it can be acknowledged by everybody”.

“We have had our mana restored as being owners of the land – that is very important. It’s a sweet deal all around.”

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