13 Jun 2017

Council knocks back Sydney marae bid

10:04 am on 13 June 2017

A 30-year bid to build a marae in Sydney has been denied, with the local council ruling the site has no historical links to Māori.

The planned marae and cultural centre in western Sydney's Hyland Road Reserve.

The planned marae and cultural centre in western Sydney's Hyland Road Reserve. Photo: Facebook / Sydney Marae Alliance

Three groups have been working together for three decades to try to build the marae in Hyland Road Reserve in western Sydney, which they say has strong links to local Māori.

However, the Cumberland Council has refused the marae development on the basis that the site has no specific historical links.

Louise Barber, one of the project team members, said that was wrong and the developers had proof of cultural links.

"Our culture is much like indigenous Australia, it's an oral culture. so how do we present that information to third party non-indigenous, and have them understand our relationship?

"So that's one thing we've got to fill, and the other thing we need to fill is - how is this going to be a sustainable project?"

Ms Barber said the Māori population in Australia was growing, and Māori youth needed somewhere to learn about their culture.

She said the developers would not give up.

"I don't think anyone is ready to say it's over and done with. Certainly people that were on the trail 30 years ago wouldn't expect that of us, so we will just start with first steps first, which is to talk to our community and get their feedback on where they want to move to as well."

Nearly 160,000 Māori live in Australia; 40,000 of them in New South Wales.