GDC’s freshwater quota ‘racist’: Iwi

‘We’ve been taken for granted for too long’.

‘We’ve been taken for granted for too long’.

‘IT IS TIME TO FIGHT’: Some of the group of protesters representing Turanga iwi outside Gisborne District Council this morning. The iwi want a change to the council’s freshwater allocation system and an end to human and mortuary waste being released into rivers. Picture by Paul Rickard

Turanga iwi say they have had enough of the region’s “racist” approach to freshwater management.

A collective of Turanga iwi, led by Te Aitanga a Mahaki, today protested outside the Gisborne District Council offices.

They want to see a change to the council’s freshwater allocation system and an end to human and mortuary waste being released into rivers.

Willie Te Aho, lead negotiator for Te Aitanga a Mahaki Treaty of Waitangi claims, said concerns that the policy did not provide freshwater access rights for Maori land had been ignored for 30 years.

“We’ve been taken for granted for too long,” Mr Te Aho said in a press statement released on behalf of the iwi collective.

“It is time to fight. And everyone standing for the GDC needs to know this.

“Today it is a racist council that does not enable legal access to freshwater for our Maori land unless we pay up to $46,000 per hectare.

“We have high value Maori land with no legal access to freshwater which flows past and under our Maori lands.

“The Gisborne District Council did not think of us, tangata whenua, when allocating our freshwater.

“When you deliberately ignore the rights of a race, you are racist. The Gisborne District Council freshwater allocation system is racist. The Gisborne District Council is racist.

“Ka nui teenaa. Enough is enough.”

Te Aitanga a Mahaki kaumatua Wirangi Pera said the protest was a message to the council that the issue was not going to go away unless there was a solution that addressed tangata whenua (people of the land) concerns.

“It recognises that for years we have been a people who have wanted to sit down and negotiate.

“After all of these negotiations we are still in the same place, so we have to try something different.

“There’s a new generation that don’t want to accept second-rate again.

“We could liken it to a fridge at home, where someone puts waste on to your kai.

“This is our livelihood; this is our future.”

Thelma Karaitiana, of Ngai Tawhiri and Te Kuri a Tuatai Marae, said the systems of the council continued to deprive tangata whenua.

“The council systems and policies have been designed to disadvantage us, to keep us in poverty.

“It has been deliberate. It threatens our very existence.”

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, who later today becomes the New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner, said it was good to see Te Aitanga a Mahaki highlight the issue to the council.

“We thank Mahaki for their support for the Makauri Aquifer and when successful there will be allocation to landowners who wish to use water for economic and cultural needs.

“Mortuary waste is being separated now. The mortuary waste will go to the Taruheru Cemetery in a dedicated place.

“I’m very pleased that we are progressing on a number of fronts of water as it is a taonga resource for now and going forward.”

Turanga iwi say they have had enough of the region’s “racist” approach to freshwater management.

A collective of Turanga iwi, led by Te Aitanga a Mahaki, today protested outside the Gisborne District Council offices.

They want to see a change to the council’s freshwater allocation system and an end to human and mortuary waste being released into rivers.

Willie Te Aho, lead negotiator for Te Aitanga a Mahaki Treaty of Waitangi claims, said concerns that the policy did not provide freshwater access rights for Maori land had been ignored for 30 years.

“We’ve been taken for granted for too long,” Mr Te Aho said in a press statement released on behalf of the iwi collective.

“It is time to fight. And everyone standing for the GDC needs to know this.

“Today it is a racist council that does not enable legal access to freshwater for our Maori land unless we pay up to $46,000 per hectare.

“We have high value Maori land with no legal access to freshwater which flows past and under our Maori lands.

“The Gisborne District Council did not think of us, tangata whenua, when allocating our freshwater.

“When you deliberately ignore the rights of a race, you are racist. The Gisborne District Council freshwater allocation system is racist. The Gisborne District Council is racist.

“Ka nui teenaa. Enough is enough.”

Te Aitanga a Mahaki kaumatua Wirangi Pera said the protest was a message to the council that the issue was not going to go away unless there was a solution that addressed tangata whenua (people of the land) concerns.

“It recognises that for years we have been a people who have wanted to sit down and negotiate.

“After all of these negotiations we are still in the same place, so we have to try something different.

“There’s a new generation that don’t want to accept second-rate again.

“We could liken it to a fridge at home, where someone puts waste on to your kai.

“This is our livelihood; this is our future.”

Thelma Karaitiana, of Ngai Tawhiri and Te Kuri a Tuatai Marae, said the systems of the council continued to deprive tangata whenua.

“The council systems and policies have been designed to disadvantage us, to keep us in poverty.

“It has been deliberate. It threatens our very existence.”

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, who later today becomes the New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner, said it was good to see Te Aitanga a Mahaki highlight the issue to the council.

“We thank Mahaki for their support for the Makauri Aquifer and when successful there will be allocation to landowners who wish to use water for economic and cultural needs.

“Mortuary waste is being separated now. The mortuary waste will go to the Taruheru Cemetery in a dedicated place.

“I’m very pleased that we are progressing on a number of fronts of water as it is a taonga resource for now and going forward.”

Working to address issues of freshwater allocation, mortuary waste: Council

Gisborne District Council acting chief executive David Wilson said the council supported Te Aitanga a Mahaki in their democratic right to protest and acknowledged their peaceful approach this morning.

“The council has been working to address the issues raised with all hapu and iwi.

“The removal of mortuary waste is a priority and we are working through options for disposal that meet the standards required by our community.

“This work reports to the wastewater management committee which has representatives of Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata and Te Runanga o Turanganui A Kiwa.

“Our overall project plan will be completed in November, followed by a funding request to the council in December.

“The allocation of water historically has been governed by the Resource Management Act. We’ve worked with iwi and stakeholders since 2010 to develop regional freshwater rules to protect freshwater quality and to set levels for the quantity of water people can take.”

Work was under way to reduce the quantity of water taken in the Waipaoa catchment so it could be reallocated.

“The council has invested $23m in to our wastewater treatment system and a further $24.5m will be invested by 2023. We’ve also committed funding and resources to fix issues that result in overflows. All this investment is done with consideration to affordability for our community.

“We are committed to working collaboratively with all iwi and hapu including Te Aitanga a Mahaki, and will continue to work to build and maintain positive relationships with our iwi partners.”

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