Hearings into wahi tapu Opihi subdivision start

Iwi are fighting to stop a resource consent to turn this land in Whakatane, which is wahi tapu, into a suburb featuring a retirement village.


An historical urupa the place our bodies are ferried by waka is on the centre of useful resource consent conflict in Whakatane.

Iwi are fighting to stop a resource consent to turn this land in Whakatane, which is wahi tapu, into a suburb featuring a retirement village.

Iwi are preventing to cease a useful resource consent to show this land in Whakatane, which is wahi tapu, right into a suburb that includes a retirement village.
Photograph: CHARLOTTE JONES / LDR

Iwi are trying to forestall the granting of a consent by Whakatane District Council for a residential subdivision subsequent to the traditional coastal urupa Opihi Whanaungakore, which continues to be in use at present.

Ngati Awa kaumatua Maanu Paul stated the proposed growth undermined hapu mana whenua, threatened its whakapapa and would destroy its rangatiratanga.

Whakatane District Council bought the land for subdivision for nearly $eight million in 2017 with an settlement that 10 of the 40 hectares of the Opihi Block on Bunyan Highway could be reserved for a retirement village. The event lot itself is 27ha.

The developer, MMS GP Restricted, is proposing to create 240 residential tons and one lot for a 250-unit retirement village.

There’s a 25-metre land buffer deliberate between the subdivision and the urupa, which shall be planted with natives and is designed to forestall unauthorised entry to the urupa.

The subdivision has been vehemently opposed by Ngati Awa iwi and hapu members, and Ngai Taiwhakaea.

Impartial hearings into the useful resource consent started on Monday and are anticipated to run till Thursday.

Yesterday at Te Hokowhitu-a-Tu Marae, Opihi Whanaungakore trustees gave the 2 commissioners, Rob van Voorthuysen and Rauru Kirikiri, an perception into the significance of the urupa and the encompassing land for them as mana whenua and their need to protect it for future generations.

The ancient Opihi Whanaungakore urupa is still used today.

The traditional Opihi Whanaungakore urupa continues to be used at present.
Photograph: CHARLOTTE JONES / LDR

Paul stated the location was wahi tapu and that standing remained even when it had been appropriated by Pākehā.

He stated Pākehā possession didn’t extinguish their mana whenua relationship with the land or their accountability as kaitiakitanga.

The subdivision would sever their relationship with their gods on the urupa by destroying the aura and atmosphere on the web site, Paul stated.

Presently one can stand on the web site with a 360-degree view to culturally important websites comparable to Whakaari and may really feel linked to varied deities.

“The applicant has no proper to tear us asunder from the land,” Paul stated.

“We will not settle for this, in any other case we’ll see the demise of our mana whenua and shall be murderers of our mokopuna’s legacy.”

Trustee Hemi Hireme stated the useful resource consent course of was racist as a result of the Māori perception system was not taken as significantly and was valued decrease than the Pākehā perception system.

“Māori wouldn’t have constructed historical past, now we have our sacred websites and locations,” he stated.

“For too lengthy now we have suffered as our sacred locations are destroyed. We can’t rebuild them. What now we have left is taonga for our mokopuna. We’ve got not severed our whakapapa to the land and we by no means will.”

Trustee Ropata Kopae is concerned in trendy burials on the web site and stated it was a spot the place historical traditions had been upheld. Our bodies had been ferried throughout the river to the location and gravediggers had been bare in accordance with historical rites.

“They are going to be constructing their million-dollar homes with their million-dollar views and over the fence I will be bent over with out garments digging a grave,” Kopae stated.

“That is the view they will be getting.”

The urupa was a religious place and lots of essential folks in Ngati Awa historical past had been buried there, he stated.

Te Runanga o Ngati Awa supervisor Michal Akurangi additionally gave proof to the listening to. The event of land inside the Ngati Awa rohe had impacted on the iwi’s potential to entry historic meals gathering and cultural heritage websites, she stated.

The runanga didn’t consider residential zoning was acceptable for the land, that earthworks would outcome within the land and all it contained being destroyed and that any unintended discovery protocol for human stays would oblige generations of Ngati Awa folks to take part within the destruction of their land, she stated.

Developer’s witnesses get a say

On Monday, the commissioners heard from the builders’ seven witnesses. That included professional witnesses on planning, archaeology and ecology.

Lawyer Vanessa Hamm instructed the commissioners the Whakatane District Plan had “clear expectations” for the land and the council had taken step one by enabling subdivision.

The applicant was merely delivering on expectations for the block, she stated.

In response to iwi considerations, the developer had made the subdivision much less dense than was allowed underneath the district plan, had dedicated to sustaining the urupa buffer, together with pest management, for 5 years and had an unintended discovery plan if koiwi (bones) had been uncovered.

Archaeology professional Ken Phillips stated it was unattainable to know if historical burials had taken place exterior the identified boundary of the urupa and it will solely be potential to search out out by substantial earthworks.

As a result of mobility of the sand dunes within the space, it was onerous to foretell what different websites is likely to be uncovered, if any, he stated.

Useful resource administration professional Antoine Coffin instructed the commissioners that to have such a big buffer between a growth and a wahi tapu web site was “uncommon”.

The buffer, fencing, and signage ought to stop most individuals from strolling over the location however that the developer could not cease unlawful trespassing on the urupa, he stated.

Ecology professional Matthew Baber stated the buffer with native plantings ought to enhance the habitat on the web site for native skinks. The developer had a plan in place to maneuver skinks out of hurt’s approach, he stated.

The event lot is coastal, sandy dunes, positioned throughout the river from the Whakatane township, subsequent to the ocean.

It was bought by council within the 1970s, however iwi have been constantly opposing its growth.

Opihi Whanaunga Belief misplaced a battle within the Surroundings Court docket in 2016 to cease subdivision of the lot.

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