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Turning off Bay outfall pipe ‘not negotiable’: Turanga iwi

TURANGA iwi representative Ian Ruru told the wastewater management committee this week that the iwi are adamant that turning off the wastewater outfall pipe into Poverty Bay is “not negotiable”.

Mr Ruru was presenting the committee with a cultural framework for addressing wastewater management in Turanganui a Kiwa.

The Kiwa Group put forward six main issues:

turning off the outfall pipe,separating mortuary by-products from the sewerage system,fixing the Te Karaka sewerage system,fixing the “toxic” dump at Paokahu,pollution at the port,wastewater overflows into city rivers.Gisborne was ranked 33 out of the 35 councils that have ocean outfalls.

Tangata whenua had always remained steadfast and were vocal. Having the outfall pipe in the bay turned off was “not negotiable.”

The wastewater management committee was ultimately the result of their battles to create a better partnership between tangata and the council.

Clause 8 of the resource consent stipulated that by 2020 there must be best endeavours to have the outfall pipe turned off.

Paokahu landfillHe had been at a trustees meeting that morning and the condition of the Paokahu landfill was still a big issue.

Asked by Amber Dunn if the six priorities had equal status, he said they were all interconnected.

The Takipu marae was downstream of the Te Karaka sewage treatment ponds. It was where the iwi did their water testing.

The release of the sewage had an impact on the iwi’s cultural practices. They could no longer fish from the river because of contamination and they were not able to put tuna (eel) on the table for tangi.

There were very few tuna or inanga in the river and they would not catch them anyway. This was a huge concern.

Mortuary wasteRemoving mortuary waste from the wastewater system was about iwi respecting their tupakaku (deceased).

It was important to separate the waste from the dressing down of the deceased before it went into the sewerage system.

The recommendation was to stop discharging mortuary waste into the sewerage system and from there into their kaimoana (seafood.)

Land-based solutionsThey wanted the council to investigate alternatives through land-based solutions.

Since the last time this was discussed iwi had been to North America and talked to First Nation tribes who had similar thinking. Gisborne had the opportunity to be the first city in the country to remove the mortuary waste.

Asked whether a wetlands system would overcome the problem, he said as soon as the mortuary water was discharged into the sewerage system the tapu was broken.

District council lifelines director David Wilson said the council was aware the issue of mortuary wastewater had not been resolved.

“It is something that is in our minds,” he said.

In the case of the Te Karaka sewerage, the council was putting $400,000 into the long-term plan to help with a land-based system.

The council had been working on the main issues raised in the framework but there was still a long way to go before any of them were at a resolution, and mortuary waste was one of those.

The committee resolved to formally receive the cultural framework.