"Leave your ideas up north" - Hicks Bay whānau say to Shane Jones

By Jessica Tyson

Whānau in Wharekahika are fighting against the government’s proposal to build a port to barge logs out of the Hicks Bay in Te Tairāwhiti.

The government is looking to open the port at Wharekahika, Hicks Bay as an alternative to the massive investment in roads and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says opening up the “Blue Highway” will host a range of benefits for all.

But Ani Pahuru-Huriwai, of Wharekahika disagrees.

“Ko tō mātou pānui ki te minita a Shane Jones, kaua koe e haere mai ki kōnei. Me waiho ō whakaaro ki roto i te nōta, tērā pea i te pirangi tō whānau, tō hapū, tō iwi, i ō tūmanako. Engari e kore mātou, ko te whanau o a Tuwhakairiora, te whānau o Te Aotaki e paku whakaae ki tēnei momo āhuatanga.”

"Our notice to Minister Shane Jones is this, don't come here. Leave your ideas in the north, where perhaps they would be welcomed by your family, sub-tribe and people. But we, the descendants of Tuwhakairiroa, the people of Aotaki, will never agree to these proceedings."

Kuia Raunikau Rose Stainton of Wharehika says their concern is for Tangaroa.

"The sea is our pantry. That is my primary concern about this project. We Māori, come down to the sea, to look for kai. If a port is built, then how will we, how will the children grow up here?"

The region of Gisborne and Hawke's Bay has the second-highest unemployment rate in New Zealand according to Stats NZ. Jones says the port will open up opportunities.

But rangatahi Paenoa Pahuru-Huriwai says whānau who he’s spoken to wouldn't want to work here.

E kore rawa rātou e whai mahi i tēnei. Ka whai noa i te haruru o ngā taraka e haere mai ana ki kōnei e pakaru ana o mātou rori.”

"We would never want to work at this port. This would result in trucks coming here and breaking up our roads."

Pahuru-Huriwai says they'd prefer a rail service.

“Tukuna mai he tereina, he ara tereina. Mā te tereina come hari i ngā rakau ki wahi kē ātu. Mā te tereina e haere mai ki ngā produce o ngā tangata e whakatipu kai ana me ngā kararehe hoki. Mā te tereina ka whai mahi anō mātou i roto ki te taone.”

This family hopes that they will be heard.