6 Jun 2013

Council 'arrogant' towards iwi over wastewater plan

7:42 am on 6 June 2013

A tribe is accusing the Rotorua District Council of having an arrogant attitude over a plan to build a wastewater plant.

Ngati Makino in the Bay of Plenty says the council wanted to discharge treated effluent into the groundwater, which would have ended up in their tipuna awa (ancestral river) Waitahanui.

Despite objections from Ngati Makino and Ngati Pikiao, the council was granted consent to build the plant at Lake Rotoma.

Plans for a new plant are now on hold, and the Environment Court has ordered Rotorua District Council to pay legal costs to the tribes for misleading them in the consultation process.

Council 'ignored own Maori advisors'

An environmental officer at Ngati Makino, Pia Bennett, says Rotorua District Council has ignored advice from its own Maori advisors, as well as alternative solutions offered by Ngati Makino.

Ms Bennett says the council-iwi relationship over the plan was flawed from the outset, and the council needs to seriously consider the partnership principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

She says the plan was an attack on her people's way of life, as it would have had an impact on the mana of the awa, which would have reflected on the mana of the people.

Ms Bennett says in the 21st century, there shouldn't be a need to release wastewater in waterways.

Rotorua District Council is reviewing the way it deals with iwi.