NZ First MP Shane Jones is calling for Northland Iwi Ngāti Kuri to open up the road to Cape Reinga immediately saying their cultural reasons for erecting a large gate across State Highway One is “rubbish”.
“Cape Reinga has been hijacked by Ngāti Kuri and their cultural mumbo jumbo,” says Shane Jones.
The Far North Iwi is refusing to open a gate they’ve erected across State Highway One blocking access to the popular tourist destination.
They say the area needs to be blessed and cleansed due to Covid-19, because according to Maori tradition, after death, people’s spirits travel there to depart to the afterlife.
“This notion that the spirits need to slumber post Covid is rubbish, this notion that the spirits are travelling to Cape Reinga to hibernate.
"I hope they called into the Houhora Pub and met their cousins Captain Morgan and Johnny Walker,” said Shane Jones.
The MP is of Te Aupouri and Ngai Takoto descent and says the Cape belongs to the nation and has significance to all Māori tribes.
“It’s a place of national significance that’s being tainted by people that don’t know what they’re talking about and who have no mandate.“
Police wouldn’t comment on the road block instead referring the matter to the New Zealand Transport Authority which says it’s working with the Iwi and the Department of Conservation who are supporting the restricted access.
Last week National MP Matt King tried visiting the Cape with his wife and parents and was involved in an altercation with iwi members with one man threatening to “Knock him out” if he tried to get past the gate.
“This is not about Covid-19, they gave me a range of reasons as to why the road was blocked, one was DOC was doing work up there then they said it was there land,” he said.
The closure coincides with Northland industry leaders calling for people to come and visit the region.
Ngāti Kuri says it will reopen the road with a ceremony on May 29.
Meanwhile, Shane Jones says the iwi organisation overseeing the closure is like, "children without books, they haven’t learnt anything.”