26 Aug 2015

Iwi protest over wastewater plans

5:53 pm on 26 August 2015

The Horowhenua District Council will continue with plans to pump wastewater into land near Poutū Marae, despite iwi opposition.

Members of Ngāti Whakatere have been protesting the plans outside the Shannon Wastewater Treatment plant since Monday.

Iwi spokesperson Lani Ketu said they felt they had no choice but to protest, as the council had planned to commence work on the whenua this week without any cultural input.

Council chief executive David Clapperton met with iwi members last night and agreed to put a hold on surveying work until the iwi completed a cultural protocol guide.

"What we've agreed is that Ngati Whakatere, as part of our resource consent conditions, is to prepare a cultural health index monitoring protocol for us.

"Until such time as we have those protocols completed, I've agreed that we won't do anything on the site," he said.

But Mr Clapperton said the plans would eventually go ahead, saying the Environment Court had given it the all-clear to discharge treated wastewater onto the land.

Local Māori claim the whenua was the scene of an ancestral battle site, kainga (homes) and said there had been an urupā (Māori cemetery) there too.

Ms Ketu said she hoped the council would honour its word and adhere to the cultural protocols the iwi set out.

"We needed some assurances from council to work with iwi with an outcome that we both agreed on, not council dictating to us, how it should be.

"We want the same outcome, a clean and healthy river. How we get there is another story."

The Manawatū River Leaders Forum said, in the past four years, $30 million had been spent to improve the state of the Manawatū River and its catchment.

Independent chair Richard Thompson said some of its forum members were concerned about wastewater going into the land too.

"What you find is that things that go on to land can quite often find their way into water anyway and that happens throughout the catchment. You can't divorce the two things. Any solution has to look at both aspects."

Mr Thompson said the forum had had discussions with iwi concerned about the cultural and environmental impacts of the plan, and said any solution needed to get as much agreement as possible.