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Waipaoa River ‘munted’

The Waipaoa River is “munted” iwi Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki iwi spokesman Ian Ruru told Gisborne District Council.

Mr Ruru was speaking in support of a Matauranga Maori cultural assessment of the mauri of the Makauri Aquifer which described the aquifer and the river as “extremely degraded”.

The report said Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki understood that that the aquifer and the Waipaoa River were one.

“If one is sick, the other is sick,” the report said.

Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki cautiously supported the managed aquifer recharge project and recommended addressing the extremely degraded state of the mauri, continuation of the mauri compass monitoring programme and restoration of the mauri of the river and aquifer for the benefit of all.

Mr Ruru said the iwi had lost their storage and customs relating to the river. “Basically we have lost our identity,” he said.

The Te Karaka oxidation pond was in drastic need of upgrading.

“We can no longer drink the water, we can no longer eat fish from the river and can no longer walk the land in safety.”

For 56 years the iwi had been protesting about the inclusion of mortuary waste which they wanted separated from the wastewater stream.

“Hopefully the next council might help us move faster with that,” he said.

There was an opportunity for Gisborne to be the first city in the country to do this.

“We have got to stop treating our rivers and the ocean as a rubbish dump,” said Mr Ruru.

Mayor Meng Foon acknowledged the work that had been done in the assessment.

“Step by step we are making progress,” he said.

Speaking for the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust consultant Murray Palmer said they believed the mixing of two waters of particularly different types was contrary to good practice from a Maori perspective.

The water from the river was very young, aerobic and had sediment contamination whereas the water in the aquifer was anaerobic, had very little oxygen was, highly mineralised and old.

Rongowhakaata saw developing a relationship with the GDC as a fundamental mitigating factor in this process, Mr Palmer said.

See also this story.