Home fires burn strong as rāhui put in place

By Taroi Black

Mana whenua and local residents of Kaipara have today put a rāhui firmly in place in response to a proposed dump site at Dome Valley.  

Local mana whenua spokesperson Mikaera Muri disagrees with his relation Mook Hohneck's stand against the rāhui. “According to our tikanga through our whakapapa, we are here to place a rāhui over this land, as our whakapapa goes back to Ngāti Manuhiri,” says Mr Muri.

More than one hundred people attended the dawn rāhui ceremony, highlighting their concerns about the landfill proposal by Chinese-owned Waste Management. “It's not mana crunching, this is about looking after the environment. This is about our kaitiakitanga, our role as kaitiaki,” he says.

Yesterday, Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust chairman Mook Hohneck told Te Ao Māori News that their hapū has mana whenua status to decide whether a rāhui is appropriate at this point in the process. He accepts locals may conduct karakia, but won’t budge and allow other neighbouring hapū to lead the rāhui on their whenua.

However, locals from the Kaipara region disagree.  

Ngāti Whātua affiliate Matua Pene Heta says, “He should've come back to this side maybe. If he wanted a korero under that banner of tikanga, he should've come around and spoken to all of the associated hapū and iwi living in this area.”

The company has been engaging with the local community since they announced their proposal last September.

Waste Management managing director Tom Nickels says, “We have been pleased to engage with iwi, including Ngāti Manuhiri, Ngāti Rango/ Ngāti Rango o Ngāti Whātua, as well as presenting to a range of people at various local community groups.”

The 1000-hectare land purchased by Waste Management, with Overseas Investment Office sign-off, is awaiting resource consent approval.

Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith says, “I think there's a long way to go with this entire story. We all have a lot of work to do, you can see today just how passionate and committed the local people are.”

In an effort to stop the proposed development, the local group ‘Fight The Tip’ received over a hundred signatures in support of the rāhui. Group member Michelle Carmichael believes there’s a huge need for community support.

“Through this whole process, I really wish I was Māori. I wish that connection to the whenua, that I could actually stand up to protect it - and it saddens me when people have that privilege that they, possibly, are not using it for the right purpose."

For now, it appears there are two important questions remaining: Who has the right to put a rāhui in place? And who is protecting the local environment?

Background:

Chinese-owned company Waste Management lodged an application to Auckland Council for resource consent for the proposed Auckland Regional Landfill.

The consent application covers the assessment of effects across a range of areas, including environmental, cultural, traffic, social and economic effects and how they are proposing to address these.

Council will now start to review all of the material and other required processes before public notification.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff told Te Ao that applying for resource consent is a lengthy process. “If they (Waste Management) don't meet the standard then the resource consent won't be given.”

Waste Management is also completing a plan change request application, which is scheduled to be lodged with Council by the end of July.

The proposal is to develop a highly engineered and environmentally secure modern landfill facility in the Wayby Valley, which they claim will not be a risk to the community.

“We have been engaging with the local community since we announced our proposal last September,” Mr Nickels said.