ENVIRONMENTALIST and community kaitiaki Chip Apanui, of the Mau Mai Trust, says joy riders along the dunes by the river mouth are probably not meaning harm.
“I would have wanted to drive in those hills when I was young also,” Mr Apanui said.
“The problem is this is a urupa.”
Mr Apanui explained that the Ake Ake Urupa was a temporary home for the dead in the old days.
“This was a process point, but some bodies have been left,” he said.
“They would hang the bodies in trees for a few years, flesh would decay and fall off.”
After the completion of this process, the remains would be taken to the burial tree in the Hukutaia domain or to other burial grounds.
“This included the ‘bottomless pit’ at Otara Road, called Te Waro o Repanga,” Mr Apanui said.
“Putting people in the ground is a bit different.”
Repairs to bollards that hold a thick wire to prevent vehicles from accessing the sacred area have recently been completed and Mr Apanui said more reinforcement to the structure was planned.
“The young people like to drive their 4WD vehicles here but we’re making them aware it’s a urupa.”
A urupa was a specific and designated spot, Mr Apanui said,
“Another urupa has been designated at a small square of land towards the end of Arakotipu Boulevard.”
Bones found during work at the Waiotahi Drifts subdivision were rehomed at this designated spot, which is marked with the word “Urupa” painted in white.