Te Pou Tupua

Te pou o te whakatupua
Te pou o te whakatawhito
Te pou o Ranginui e tū nei!

The celestial post
The ancient post
The pillar of universal order!

Te Pou Tupua is the face and voice of Te Awa Tupua and will uphold Tupua te Kawa.

The face and voice of Te Awa Tupua

Te Awa Tupua as a legal person requires a human agent that can take steps to act on behalf and in the name of Te Awa Tupua to uphold its status and protect its health and wellbeing.

The settlement establishes the position of Te Pou Tupua to perform this role and act as the human face of Te Awa Tupua.

Te Pou Tupua is a single role, held by two persons. The appointment is made jointly by both the iwi with interests in the Whanganui River (including Whanganui Iwi) and by the Crown, symbolising not only the Treaty partnership between Iwi and the Crown, but also the Crown’s ongoing responsibility to uphold Te Awa Tupua.

The functions of Te Pou Tupua include:

  • acting and speaking on behalf of Te Awa Tupua;
  • upholding the status of Te Awa Tupua and Tupua te Kawa;
  • promoting and protecting the health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua; Te Awa Tupua as a legal person will require a human agent that can take steps to act on behalf and in the name of Te Awa Tupua to uphold its status and protect its health and wellbeing.
  • exercising the landowner functions in relation to any land vested in Te Awa Tupua; and
  • administering Te Korotete o Te Awa Tupua (the Te Awa Tupua putea).

Te Pou Tupua are required to act in the interests of Te Awa Tupua, consistently with Tupua te Kawa, and for no other purpose.

The role of Te Pou Tupua is to represent and advocate for the interests of the River, not represent its appointors. However, Te Pou Tupua are also be required to recognise the inalienable interconnection between the iwi and hapū of the Whanganui River and Te Awa Tupua. As such Te Pou Tupua must develop appropriate mechanisms for engaging with and reporting to the iwi and hapū of the River on matters relating to Te Awa Tupua.

Te Pou Tupua

In October 2021, Turama Hawira and Keria Ponga were appointed the joint role of Te Pou Tupua for the next three years.

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Turama Hawira
Te Pou Tupua

Poukōrero Turama Hawira is an experienced cultural advisor and a trustee and director of several hapū and iwi trusts.

He has chaired the Ngā Rauru Iwi post-settlement governance entity, currently serves as a director of Morikaunui Incorporation and presented research and advice on behalf of hapū and iwi claimants of the wider Whanganui-Ruapehu District to both the National Park Inquiry and Whanganui District Inquiry of the Waitangi Tribunal, WAI 903. 

Keria3 2
Keria Ponga
Te Pou Tupua

Keria Ponga together with her late husband Royce Te Rangitautahi Ponga have been central to many key efforts for the Whanganui River. For more than 40 years, Mrs Ponga has amassed a deep appreciation and love of Whanganui Awa tribal knowledge, as well as a career in community development, private enterprise, business mentoring and economic development within a national context. Mrs Ponga offers experience having held governance and leadership roles within several organisations, the most current being Ātihau-Whanganui
Incorporation, and the Sarjeant Gallery Trust.

Born and raised at Pūtiki alongside her elders, Mrs Ponga brings to the role of Te Pou Tupua an intimate understanding of Te Awa Tupua, and a commitment to serve her Iwi for the betterment of future generations.

Advisors to Te Pou Tupua

Te Pou Tupua are supported by Te Karewao, an advisory committee comprising three members - one appointed by Whanganui Iwi, one appointed by other iwi with interests in the Whanganui River and one appointed by local authorities. An additional person may also be appointed to Te Karewao from the iwi and hapū with interests in a particular part of the Whanganui River when Te Pou Tupua requires advice in relation to a matter affecting a discrete part of the River.

The role of Te Karewao is to advise and support Te Pou Tupua in the exercise of its functions. Te Pou Tupua may also delegate functions to Te Karewao.

Te Karewao

Annette Main
Te Karewao - Appointed by Local Authorities

Annette was the Mayor of Whanganui during a fairly tumultuous time.

Her six years in the role included guiding the community through the process to correct the spelling of the district, confirming the rebuild of a failed wastewater plant, regaining a positive reputation and stimulating growth, and leading the region's mayors during that time, through the process of initial understanding of the proposed Te Awa Tupua legislation.

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Wiari Rauhina
Te Karewao - Appointed by other Iwi with Interests in the Whanganui River

Nō Ngati Tuwharetoa raua ko Ngati Raukawa Wiari was born and raised in Taumarunui and educated at Tipene Kura and Wellington Polytechnic. 

Wiari has worked in Enviromental Health and as a Building Inspector for the Councils of Taumarunui, Waimarino, Ohakune and Raetihi. 

He has also been a Social Worker working for the Social Welfare Department, holding managerial roles.  

In May 2018, Wiari was elected as Chairman for Te Kotahitanga o Ngati Tuwharetoa. 

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Siani Walker
Advisory Trustee - Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui


Ko Raymond Tauroa tōku pāpā, Ko Nga Puhi me Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa te iwi, Nō Kaeo hau kāinga. 
Ko Aria Pohe-Graham tōku māmā, Ko Ngāti Tupoho me Ngāti Rangi ngā hapū, Ko Taihape te hau kāinga. 
Ko Siani Walker tōku ingoa, Nō Whanganui ahau.
I grew up in Whanganui, holidayed in Taihape, and tripped up and down Te Awa Tupua with my nanny Ani-Paki Waitai Haapu.

Those are times and memories that have ignited my desire to reconnect with Te Awa Tupua, be informed by Te Awa Tupua hapū, and especially important is to make time to enjoy with my whānau.  As an appointed Advisory Trustee to Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui Trust, I am humbled by the knowledge, passion and commitment of those before me who have incrementally and staunchly lead the kaupapa for Te Awa Tupua. I hope to contribute to that kaupapa and the mahi needed to have the voice of Te Awa Tupua heard, to have the recognition of Te Awa Tupua clearly understood by communities and to make a contribution and difference in the care, nuture and management of this taonga.

Te Pou Tupua Website

To head directly to the website of Te Pou Tupua click here.


Do you whakapapa to the Whanganui River? Would you and your whānau like to be registered on the Whanganui Iwi Database? What does that mean?

It means that you get sent pānui and updates on kaupapa related to the Whanganui River and Te Awa Tupua, the people and the river from the Mountains to the Sea. You can also apply for the different grants that are advertised on our website and facebook page.

If you are already on the database and need to up date your details please head to the database or send us an email at office@ngatangatatiaki.co.nz