7 Apr 2015

Maori call for totara protection in Takaka

7:25 pm on 7 April 2015

Māori in Golden Bay are calling for more protection of ancient indigenous trees in the rohe to stop them from being felled without consultation.

An environmental group has been demanding action by the Tasman District Council to stop 100-year old totara being felled in the Takaka Valley to make way for dairy farming and irrigation systems.

The Tasman District Council said one farmer who cut down the trees had acknowledged what he did was wrong and had been given a formal warning.

Now, the umbrella entity for the three Māori Trusts in Golden Bay who act as kaitiaki (guardians) for the rohe: Ngāti Tama, Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Rārua, have raised concerns about the felling.

Manawhenua ki Mohua's kaumatua, John Ward-Holmes, said manawhenua only hear on the grapevine once totara trees are felled.

"It's very sad, but if a farmer is not going to be fined, or there's no regulations in place to ensure that they're not cut down, the farmer is going to do whatever they want."

Mr Ward-Holmes said manawhenua would prefer the 100-year old trees to stay put if possible, but if they can't be kept, they would like the opportunity to use the wood for customary purposes.

John Ward-Holmes

John Ward-Holmes Photo: Supplied

"It would be nice to be consulted, but farmers don't have to consult us. There should be more legal protection over the trees, but we're not consulted so we don't have any say, we just hear on the grapevine and approach the farmers [for the timber].

"I don't think it's right, but that's what happens."

A spokesperson for Tasman District Council, Chris Choat, said a warning creates an obligation between the council and the landowner for restoration of some sort, whereas a fine of $300 under the Resource Management Act draws a line under the event without the option of recompense.

Mr Choat said the warning allows the council to work closely with that farmer in regards to works on his property relating to trees and vegetation.

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