Kia ora e te whānau, welcome back to all those mutton birders who are now home on the mainland after a not so good birding season but one where they had time to connect with, appreciate and enjoy, their ancestral ties to the whenua.

The month of May saw a number of positive activities in Bluff, namely the Bluff Oyster Festival. Prior to the Festival a community group, the Bluff 2024 Urban Rejuvenation Group, made up of Te Rūnanga o Awarua affiliates and locals had been busy beautifying the entrance to Bluff with landscaping, signage and a mosaic quotation on a wall in the township.

The rūnanga would like to acknowledge these people for their hard work and dedication by providing the history behind the group, their aspirations for the town up to and beyond 2024, in the hope they can attract more helpers to their cause.

Early in 2012,Venture Southland and Invercargill City Council instigated meetings throughout Southland on Urban Rejuvenation – delivering a strategy to assist communities to revitalise and engender positive outcomes for communities. A number of people came together and quickly moved to form Bluff 2024. Their first community meeting was held at Awarua Rūnanga. The name, Bluff 2024 Urban Rejuvenation Group was put forward, as Bluff will be the first established town in New Zealand to celebrate their Bi-Centenary. Their motto is “Bluff 2024 Moving Forward….”

Regular meetings began at the Tarere ki Whenua Uta Study Centre before moving to the whare kai at Te Rau Aroha Marae. It is around the marae kitchen table where the group brainstorm, plan and move through an impromptu agenda. The marae staff and kōmiti have encouraged the group over the past three years and have allowed them the use of the premises free of charge for community meetings and monthly get-togethers.

As with all community groups, finances or the lack of is and continues to be a struggle. As part of the group’s mahi they assist other groups in Bluff to help gain sponsorship and donations to progress their ideas. Late last year, a fundraising housie event was run at Te Rau Aroha Marae that was deemed successful by the committee and housie participants. Most recently, a team of Bluff 2024 volunteers supported the Bluff Oyster Festival and on Waitangi Day they had a team assist the rūnanga at Te Rau Aroha Marae by erecting tents, setting up seating, waitressing and other clean-up

Bluff 2024 established and coordinate, an annual cleanup day in Bluff. They team up with whānau and friends by picking up rubbish from every street in our town. If you would like to help with this, the next annual cleanup will be held on Saturday 15 August.

The group endeavors to keep everyone informed of all their projects, events and working bees by distributing a quarterly pānui. This is delivered to every household by the local scout group, Te Ara a Kiwa. The cost of the pānui is met by local businesses.

In 2014, Bluff 2024 adopted the highway into Bluff and late last year completed 150 metres of native planting, with a further 300 plus metres to landscape. They have continued to receive support from the Motupōhoe Environmental Trust in the form of labour, advice and native plants, which are propagated here in Bluff at their new native nursery.

In conjunction with the plantings, the group asked the community to design a new entrance sign. Codesigners Liz Wright (née Whaitiri) and Adele McMahon submitted the final concept, and it was by built by Bluff Engineering. The sign was officially opened on 21 May 2015 and already draws considerable attention from visiting tourists.

Members of the group would like to think that our small town could capitalise on the ‘Bluff to Cape Reinga’ adage. This does make a great photo for the start or finish of trips to Bluff.

Their latest project was the mosaic mural, “Beneath the sea the oysters rock gently in their beds”, which was designed by local resident Kirsten Karaitiana. The quote was written for the group by another Bluff resident, Cilla McQueen, partner of the late Stewart Whaitiri. Cilla is a respected poet/writer with the distinction of being NZ Poet Laureate 2009-2011.The mosaic mural is to be completed with a mural of the seabed, shellfish and Bluffs’ own wonderful ‘TIO’ by the pupils of Bluff Community School.

Bluff 2024 is continually looking for ways to highlight the environment around Bluff. They hold working bees to tidy up the entrance into Bluff, the foreshore and the main street. They have also included the back beach behind the old Ocean Beach Freezing Works as it overlooks Rakiura, and it is a popular spot for visitors and kaimoana-gatherers.

If you would like to become a member of this hardworking community group go along to their next community meeting, which is scheduled for 7
September, 7pm at Te Rau Aroha Marae.

Just bring along a positive can-do attitude whereby everyone can bring their ideas, concepts, wants and needs to the table and as a group vote and prioritise what to investigate and put forward for the next 12-18 months. If this sounds like you, pencil this date in your

Native plantings at the entrance to Bluff.

Native plants at the entrance to Bluff.

The new Bluff welcome sign.

The new Bluff welcome sign.

From left,  Andy Watkins Adele McMahon and Liz Wright Steve Mitchell after the ribbon for the new sign was cut.

From left, Andy Watkins, Adele McMahon, Liz Wright and Steve
Mitchell after the ribbon for the new sign was cut.

Cilla McQueen’s quote on the mosaic mural.

Cilla McQueen’s quote on the mosaic mural.

Prince Harry’s visit

On 10 May, Phillip Smith our kaumātua from Rakiura and I met with Prince Harry on (Ulva Island) Rakiura. Department of Conservation rangers, Ulva Island trustees and the Hunter whānau were all part of a group that met with Prince Harry on Te Wharawhara beach as he walked around the island.

Although our conversation with the Prince was brief, I felt honoured to be in his company. The Prince seemed genuinely interested in what the Ulva Island Trust was doing in terms of the species protection on the island. What struck me most was the large number of media and protection personal that were part of his entourage. Phillip also met Prince Harry at the community hall where he had a tītī display. He talked to him about pōhā and the rimurapa and how the birds are stored inside. Later that evening, I saw the Prince Harry walking down the street to his retreat before he came back out later to the South Seas pub, for the big quiz night.

The next morning, we were treated to one of the famous Rakiura sunrises – ātaahua. As part of his visit, he went to the local primary school and the tamariki performed a Māori waiata.

It was great seeing royalty in this part of the country and I’m sure it’s a memory that the people of Rakiura will have for a long time. Nā Dean Whaanga.

Membership database

We are constantly updating our membership database and have found that many members’ children have had children of their own who require registering. If you are one of these people we encourage you to contact us on the contact details above to request registration form/s. NB: If your enquiries relate to registering with Ngāi Tahu please contact the Whakapapa Unit on 0800 KAI TAHU (0800 524 8248).

We also encourage those members who have changed their residential or email addresses to update their details with the rūnanga.