9 Jun 2011

Taniwha no threat to tunnel project, iwi says

6:49 pm on 9 June 2011

Auckland hapu Ngati Whatua o Orakei says a taniwha in central Auckland will not be a threat to the plan for a multi-billion dollar rail tunnel project.

A member of Auckland's Independent Maori Statutory Board, Glen Wilcox, has told councillors the water spirit or guardian Horotiu lives near the Town Hall on Queen Street.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei says the stream the taniwha is said to live in has been used by Auckland Maori since the early 1700s.

The hapu's heritage advisor, Malcolm Paterson, says he hasn't heard the story of the taniwha. But he says the board has brought the issue of consultation with the hapu and the issue of the environment to the front of councillors' minds, and he doesn't see the issue as a threat to project.

Auckland councillor Cathy Casey says the issue isn't the taniwha, but whether the council is consulting with Maori, which she says it is.

Maori Statutory Board chairman David Taipari is confident issues about a taniwha can be resolved - but says the parties need to sort things out sooner rather than later.

When the taniwha was first mentioned at a council meeting there was scattered laughter. Mr Taipari says he's not sure whether that was nervous laughter, but says he takes such things seriously.

The council has not yet determined the route of a proposed downtown rail tunnel, which has so far failed to win support from the Government.