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Iwi advocate for stronger role in water plan

IWI made strong calls for Maori cultural values to be recognised in the District Council’s freshwater plan on the first day of hearings yesterday.

There were also calls from Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou and the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust for their main rivers, the Waiapu and Te Arai, to be recognised separately from the Waipaoa River Catchment Plan.

The commissioners were hearing submissions on the regional policy statement for the plan. The submission from Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou said a key area of concern was that the plan, which would have region-wide application, had been drafted to address the water issues of the Waipaoa catchment.

Their submission detailed the very different physical and consenting characteristics of the catchments in the Ngati Porou rohe to that of the Waipaoa. A one-size-fits-all approach would have significant adverse effects on the Ngati Porou catchments.

Ngati Porou said an interim policy and rule regime was needed to ensure that the highly-permissive Waipaoa catchment rules were not applied to freshwater planning in their rohe.

They asked that the plan better recognise and provide for the cultural and ecological values, from decision-making through to monitoring, in a manner that provided for the matauranga of Ngati Porou.

The process failed to provide the runanganui with the role intended by the joint management agreement between it and the council, and they wanted the joint management agreement reflected in the plan.

Agnes Walker criticised the process of engagement for the plan, saying there were only 30 submissions, mostly from commercial entities.

The runanganui was being downgraded to a stakeholder instead of being recognised as a partner through the joint management agreement.

People of the landRunanganui chairman Selwyn Parata said they were there as the people of the land, extending from Potikirua to Toka a Taiau.

“We are the people, we are the river, we are the land and the land is us,” he said.

The Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust recommended that a memorandum of understanding be created between the iwi and the council.

It noted that water was an integral part of Rongowhakaata iwi culture. It had spiritual meaning and played an important part in the wellbeing of the iwi.

The Te Arai River was a taonga and should be recognised separately from the Waipaoa.

Rongowhakaata wanted objective 11 of the policy statement to be reworded to state that the planning and management of the region’s freshwater should be managed in a way that recognised and enabled the kaitiaki role of mana whenua, and ensured that their values and interests were reflected in the outcomes.

Jody Wylie said Rongowhakaata had a mana and whakapapa of their own. It was interesting that they were talking about water.

“Most of the water for the city comes from our lands. It comes across our tribal area to feed all your people. That is the the reason we are here.

“We don’t want to be ignored. We don’t want to be pushed aside like some interest group. Remember we are signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi. We have mana to the lands here and to the waters.”

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