6 Apr 2015

Northland councils accused of racism

1:45 pm on 6 April 2015

A Northland hapu is criticising local councils for failing to tell them about plans for a water-bottling plant that could pollute their waters.

Auckland developer Zodiac Holdings has long-standing approval to take water from aquifers that feed Poroti Springs, west of Whangarei.

Last year, the company gained consent from the Whangarei District Council to double the size of its planned factory.

The local hapu, who are the legal owners of the springs, said the Northland Regional Council also just approved earthworks and stormwater discharges from the plant that could pollute the Springs.

Spokesperson Millan Ruka said neither council said anything to neighbouring Maori landowners until the consents were done and dusted.

He said Northland councils talked about building honourable relationships with Maori, but the saga amounted to racist behaviour.

"This Zodiac saga is an orchestrated collaboration of deceit. And by now notifying us at all of these grand scale of what's about to happen is racism to the Maori landowners."

Mr Ruka said the Poroti hapu had been protesting to the Whangarei District Councils for years about a culvert it built that polluted the springs with stormwater in heavy rain.

He said the councils now agreed that Zodiac's water bottling plant could discharge stormwater into the same culvert, when it was already inadequate.

Mr Ruka said to make matters worse, it appeared the Regional Council granted that consent without knowing the District Council had approved plans for a bigger factory on the site last August.

He said neither council had considered the impact on the Whatitiri aquifer of Zodiac's plan to excavate a two metre deep pond on its site - which was across the road from the springs - or whether it might need to blast to get through sheet rock close to the surface, posing a further risk to the aquifers.

He said the Poroti hapu were now taking legal advice on what they could do.

There has been no comment from the councils.

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