Reclassification and vesting of Te Paina whenua (Mercer Domain Recreation Reserve) back to iwi, is underway.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

’I riro whenua atu me hoki whenua mai!’

Koia puu te oohaakii i oohaakiitia ai e kauwheke maa, i te rironga o ngeenei whenua o Te Paina. He kura te whenua, he taangaengae te whenua, he matahiiapo te whenua! Kua hoki ora mai ki ngaa ringaringa o te iwi!

A public submissions process has opened for proposed reclassification and vesting of the historically significant 40ha of land in Te Paina – Mercer.

Te Paina is currently a Crown-owned, Waikato District Council managed reserve, comprising several parcels of land.

The history of Te Paina is intrinsically linked to our Waikato-Tainui historical narrative and features prominently in major events, spanning over many generations. From the 1860 Land Wars and Raupatu, the passive resistance against conscription during World War 1, through to the relocation of whaanau – lead by Te Puea Herangi herself – from Te Paina to Ngaaruawaahia, to establish Tuurangawaewae Marae more than 100 years ago. Te Paina has continued to maintain a presence in our story and identity as an iwi – none more significant than that of our Ngaati Naho and Ngaati Tamaoho whaanau.

With the significance of the whenua to iwi and hapuu in mind, a 2018 WDC report recommended that its appointment to control and manage Te Paina be revoked and returned to Waikato-Tainui. The years of dedication and tireless mahi have now eventuated in the processes to return this whenua, to formally commence.

The Department of Conservation will be managing the public submissions process, of which requires public notification, receipt of submissions and a hearing (if required). A legal survey and assessment of the site values has also taken place as part of the reclassification and vesting process. Once the formal processes are complete, a recommendation will be taken to the Minister of Conservation, Hon Poto Williams, and a decision will be made in relation to the return of the whenua.

To make a submission and contribute your views, go to

Submissions will be open from 07 July to 08 August 2022.

What is vesting?

When a significant site/s is transferred to (Waikato-Tainui in this case) subject to certain conditions. This is to protect the existing values in the land, such as public access or conservation, and to protect existing third-party rights.

What is classification?

A classification gives a high degree of recognition and acknowledges the traditional, cultural, spiritual and historical association of (the iwi) with certain sites of significance over land. The declaration of an area as a classification requires the Crown to acknowledge iwi values in relation to that area.

Reclassification ensures land is being protected for its natural, cultural and heritage values, and is secured for the future, proving economic, social and/or recreational opportunities.