Iwi call on government to commit to forestry report recommendations

6:59 pm on 17 May 2023
Flooding and forestry slash at Tolaga Bay on 13 February 2023, before the real brunt of Cyclone Gabrielle hit.

Forestry slash, such as this debris washed up against a Tolaga Bay bridge on 13 February, created a widespread and sometimes dangerous and destructive problem during recent severe weather events. Photo: Supplied/ Uawa Civil Defence

Immediate action is needed to address unsustainable forestry practices that have put an iwi's lands and waterways at risk, they say.

Te Tai Rāwhiti iwi Ngāti Porou have asked the government to commit to recommendations made in a report that is the result of a independent ministerial inquiry into forestry slash, woody debris and sediment on the North Island's East Coast.

The report Outrage to Optimism report warned there were only five to 10 years to turn the situation around, with Ngāti Porou at risk of becoming "homeless and landless".

Te Runanga Nui o Ngati Porou chairman Selwyn Parata said the report panel had heard the people.

"We're ecstatic about the report, the panel has listened to our people and formed recommendations that balance the needs of the taiao (environment), our land, our people and our regional economy."

In relation to whenua Māori the report recommended the government agree to partner with whenua Māori landowners for a suite of investment-ready development projects and to provide capital for a proof-of-concept co-investment arrangement.

Parata said Ngāti Porou looked forward to partnering with government, land owners, industry leaders and iwi members to implement an integrated approach.

But the reports recommendations would require a long term commitment from the government, he said.

"We are asking for immediate action in our waterways. Failure to act is not an option when the security, safety and well-being of the whenua, our waterways, and our people are at stake."

Heading into winter all the region needed was another heavy rain and it would be back to square one, Parata said.

The report provided a challenge to all parties in Te Tai Rāwhiti, including Ngāti Porou, to do what was right before there was any further damage to the whenua, he said.

"We are the land owners, we are the farmers, we are the foresters, above all we are the kaitiaki.

"That in our opinion is our unique point of difference, we have a duty of care ourselves for our homeland, our oceans and our environment."

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