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Iwi group to appeal port ruling appeal

An iwi collective is to appeal to the Environment Court against the decision of independent commissioners to grant resource consent for the demolition of wharves six and seven and the slipway at Eastland Port.

Spokesman for the collective, Ian Ruru, said it would take the development to the Environment Court if mediation failed.

The collective involves Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, Ngati Oneone, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngati Porou Seafoods Group and Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa, who will lodge an appeal with the Environment Court over granting resource consents for capital dredgings and redevelopment of wharf six, wharf seven and the slipway at the port.

All were involved in the consent hearing in June.

Mr Ruru said the appeal was first and foremost about protecting the integrity of Te Toka a Taiau, the historic former rock where the first meeting between European and Maori took place.

“We took a pragmatic approach to the port’s applications to demolish and reconstruct the wharves,” he said.

“We outlined our concerns, provided solutions and invited open and transparent discussions with both the port and the consenting department of Gisborne District Council.

Unfortunately, only 1 percent of our solutions were addressed.”

The second reason for the appeal is to ensure the survival of a rock lobster nursery under the wharves.

Mr Ruru spoke of the significance of the nursery at a hearing in June.

“The largest koura rua (crayfish nursery) in New Zealand sits beneath wharves six and seven. It replenishes crayfish stocks for local commercial, recreational and customary interests, so we are obligated to ensure that the port avoids destroying this precious taonga (resource),” said Mr Ruru.

The third reason was for the iwi collective to protect the mauri of the marine environment.

The Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan acknowledged that Maori established the importance of the mauri of coastal waters, he said.

The plan went further and required that the mauri of coastal resources were protected or restored.

“This aspect binds our first two issues together. As eels are the talisman for the mauri of the Waipaoa River, it follows that crayfish are the perfect talisman for the port’s marine environment.

“Protecting the nursery is an essential step towards protecting the historical and cultural significance of Te Toka a Taiau.”

Eastland Port. Picture by Kevin Weatherley