15 Dec 2010

Residents, Maori object to sewage scheme

12:03 pm on 15 December 2010

The Environment Court has given the go-ahead for a controversial sewage treatment scheme at an East Coast beach settlement.

The Wairoa District Council will be able to spray up to 52,000 cubic metres of treated effluent each year over a 30 hectare site on the Mahia Peninsula.

The Residents Association opposes the scheme, which will cost householders about $15,000 each, while Maori say the project will defile the sacred site of a 19th century massacre.

The tiny East Coast settlement has about 350 houses, of which 110 are permanently occupied, all with individual septic tanks.

The Mahia Isthmus Residents and Ratepayers Association, which opposes the scheme, says those on fixed incomes will be forced to sell up.

Spokesperson Mere Whaanga says her iwi is offended by the plans to spray effluent over the site where men, women and children were slaughtered by another tribe.

"Imagine if the Turkish authorities decided to spray human effluent over Gallipoli," she said.

"This massacre site is so important, not only to the Whaanga family but to Mahia history, it's a comparable insult."

The Environment Court has ruled the benefits to the community outweigh cultural and historical concerns.

And Wairoa District Council engineering manager Neil Cook says with the population growing to over 2500 in summer, septic tanks can no longer cope.

The residents and ratepayers association is considering appealing against the decision.