17 Aug 2015

Top Energy bid to use Treaty land 'hugely offensive'

8:35 am on 17 August 2015

A Māori trust says Top Energy's bid to use land that is part of their Waitangi Tribunal claim is hugely offensive.

Pipework at Ngawha geothermal power station.

Pipework at Ngawha geothermal power station. Photo: TOP ENERGY

The Parahirahi C1 Trust, which represents local hapū in the rohe, is angry the company wants to expand its activities while its claim over ownership is still before the Waitangi Tribunal.

The trust raised the issue as part of its submission against Top Energy's proposed expansion to further develop its geothermal power field at Ngawha.

The company is seeking a Notice of Requirement at a Resource Consent Hearing in Kerikeri to use land called the Four Acres for an access road.

But that land is currently leased to the Parahirahi C1 Trust as an interim settlement while efforts to return it to Māori ownership continue.

One of its trustees, Amokura Kawharu, said Top Energy's actions were unacceptable.

"That's a huge concern to us. We've been fighting for literally decades for the return of this land and they are seeking permission to be granted for them to use it for their trucks to enable them to construct a new plant.

"We find that hugely offensive."

Ms Kawharu said if the access was granted the company should have to repair and upgrade the road.

Top Energy said it would not comment on the issue while the hearing process was underway.