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Nau mai ki te whārangi ipurangi o

The close connection between the siblings Tāne Mahuta and Tangaroa.

White mānuka is the raw material used to build
the pā auroa. This symbolises the connection,
co-operation and strength within Te Awa Tupua. 




Te Kōpuka nā Te Awa Tupua (Te Kōpuka) is the Te Awa Tupua strategy group comprising central, regional government, local government and sectorial interests, collaborating under the leadership of hapū and iwi to give effect to the intent of Te Pā Auroa nā Te Awa Tupua (Te Pā Auroa), the Te Awa Tupua framework. 


Established in 2019, Te Kōpuka meet regularly to look at what paradigm shift is required to achieve the intent of Te Pā Auroa. 


The purpose of Te Kōpuka is to act collaboratively to advance the environmental, social, cultural and economic health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua. The primary function of Te Kōpuka is to develop and approve Te Heke Ngahuru ki Te Awa Tupua (Te Heke Ngahuru). Other functions of Te Kōpuka include:

  • monitoring the implementation of and reviewing Te Heke Ngahuru;

  • providing a forum for discussion of issues relating to the health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua; and

  • exercising any functions that may be delegated to it by a local authority.

The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Settlement) Act 2017 (the Act), requires Te Heke Ngahuru to identify the issues relevant to the health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua, provide a strategy to deal with those issues; and recommend actions to deal with those issues.


Te Kōpuka is comprised of representatives of persons and organisations with interests in the Whanganui River, including local and central government leaders, environmental advocates, primary industry and tourism representatives, recreational users, and iwi from across the Whanganui River catchment. They are rich and diverse in lived experience, technical knowledge and all uphold a passionate commitment to Te Awa Tupua.


Iwi with interests in Te Awa Tupua worked in a collaborative effort called Te Ripo. Te Ripo facilitates iwi presence required for six of the memberships on Te Kōpuka.


The inaugural meeting of Te Kōpuka was held on 30 May 2019 at Te Ihingarangi Marae, Waimiha. There was unanimous agreement that the group should be led by iwi members of Te Kōpuka; namely Gerrard Albert of Whanganui (Chair) and Hera Smith of Te Atihaunui ā Pāpārangi and Ngāti Maniapoto (Deputy Chair).



  • Te Ripo: Gerrard Albert (Chair of Te Kōpuka)

  • Te Ripo: Hera Smith (Deputy Chair of Te Kōpuka)

  • Four further appointments from Te Ripo

  • Mayor of Whanganui District: Andrew Tripe

  • Mayor of Ruapehu District: Weston Kirton

  • Mayor of Stratford District: Neil Volzke

  • Horizons Regional Council Chair: Rachel Keedwell 

  • Fish and Game New Zealand: Allen Stancliff

  • Department of Conservation: Damian Coutts 

  • Genesis Energy Ltd: Tracey Hickman

  • Tourism interests: Rory Smith

  • Environmental interests: Keith Beautrais

  • Recreation interests: Nicole Dryden

  • Primary Industry interests: Colleen Sheldon

Te Ripo - iwi and hapū representation on Te Kōpuka  

  • Te Ihingarangi: Rangianiwaniwa Pehikino 

  • Ngāti Maniapoto: Hera Smith

  • Ngāti Maru: Anaru Marshall

  • Ngāti Rangi / Te Runanga o Tamaupoko: Deb Te Riaki

  • Ngāti Rereahu: Gabriel Moana and Eric Crown

  • Ngāti Tuwharetoa: Wiari Rauhina and Tyrone (Bubs) Smith

  • Tamahaki: Pāora Haitana

  • Ngāti Uenuku: Aiden Gilbert

  • Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa: Pahia Turia 

  • Whanganui iwi: Gerrard Albert



Te Heke Ngahuru - The First Autumn Migration of Eels

Ko ngā heke o te ngahuru he tohu o te hua nui o te tau - ko Puanga kai rau e heke mai ana

The first autumn migration of eels signifies well-stocked storehouses for the winter (the onset of winter being heralded by the rise of the star Puanga)

Te Heke Ngahuru ki Te Awa Tupua is the Te Awa Tupua strategy. The name symbolises the potential of Te Awa Tupua to provide for all if cared for and protected as a living spiritual and physical resource. 

The purpose of Te Heke Ngahuru is to provide for the collaboration of persons with interests in the Whanganui River, in order to address and advance the health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua.


Te Heke Ngahuru must—

(a) identify the issues relevant to the health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua; and

(b) provide a strategy to deal with those issues; and

(c) recommend actions to deal with those issues.


The tohu of Te Kōpuka was designed by Hinepuaraurangi Hawira. The design is an abstract composition of imagery of the pā tuna (eel weir), kōpuka (native white pine) poha hoop, fastened to the frame (tekateka) for cradling pā tuna. The intertwined kōpuka stakes symbolise unity among diverse groups and iwi safeguarding the river. The triangles symbolise the kāhui maunga. The extended arms echo both the imagery of the tupuna who understood the vast expanse and power of nature, as well as efforts to retain equilbrium through expressions of rangatiratanga. The pakati design embodies Te Taurawhiri a Hinengakau. The abstract tukutuku stitches portray the iwi and groups protecting the river.



Te Heke Ngahuru ki Te Awa Tupua

Te Awa Tupua Strategy

To learn more about the  journey Te Kōpuka has taken in crafting Te Heke Ngahuru, please use this link to download the draft discussion document. 


Te Heke Ngahuru Submissions
We want to express our appreciation to everyone who submitted their views about Te Heke Ngahuru. All feedback received will be carefully reviewed and utilised in the finalisation of Te Heke Ngahuru.
All submissions can be found here






Te Heke Ngahuru Engagements

Te Kōpuka has recently conducted public engagements as part of our commitment to the communities of Te Awa Tupua.


Our members reached out to various communities within the catchment, aiming to connect with them and discuss the potential of Te Heke Ngahuru.


We valued the opportunity to listen to their diverse views. We have captured that feedback and summarised in a report that can be found here

Te Kōpuka’s work plan will see us continuing to engage with our communities in the building of action plans.


The action plans will give life to the Strategy, and will be built with our communities through ongoing opportunities. 





Te Kōpuka Quarterly Hui

Te Kōpuka welcomes the communities of Te Awa Tupua to contribute to our mahi by attending our quarterly hui scheduled for:

  •  Friday, 3 May 2024, 10am - 2pm @ Pungarehu Marae. 

  • Friday, 19 July 2024, 10am - 2pm@ Kākahi Marae, 10am whakaeke marae. 

  • Friday, 27 Sept 2024, 10am - 2pm@ Raetihi Marae, 10am whakaeke marae. 

  • Friday, 13 Dec 2024, 10am - 2pm, venue TBC.  

Te Kopuka ki Pungarehu


To be kept up to date on this mahi



Head to the following websites

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