3 Feb 2012

Constitution, lagoon pollution to be discussed at festival

7:49 am on 3 February 2012

The Ngai Tahu Treaty Festival will be used to discuss the constitutional review and pollution in the Waituna Lagoon, head of the Awanui Runaka in Southland Sir Tipene O'Regan says.

Te Rau Aroha Marae, near Bluff, is the centre for the large event on Waitangi Day where Murihiku (Southland) members of the iwi will converge and commemorate close to Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait - one of the three locations Ngai Tahu signed the Treaty in 1840.

Local dignitaries including Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson and Te Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene will attend.

Sir Tipene is co-chair of the Constitutional Advisory Panel - the group appointed by the Government.

He says the festival will allow iwi and the Government to talk about how both parties can progress further and find solutions that will suit everyone.

Sir Tipene says the festival will also be a chance to air questions about how to repair the Waituna Lagoon near Bluff, where eels and others varieties of fish were once abundant.

He says the problem has largely been destruction due to dairy run-off and the question about on-going management of the lands and restoration work on the lagoon, as it is a hugely valuable mahinga kai, or tribal food resource.

Sir Tipene says Ngai Tahu has been heavily engaged with Environment Minister Nick Smith about the issue and the festival is a good place to speak about how further progress can be made.

He says the Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon will not be at the festival as he will be representing the iwi at Waitangi at the Iwi Leaders Forum.

Each year, Ngai Tahu Waitangi Day commemorations rotate between three locations, which also include Otakou Marae near Dunedin and Onuku Marae on Banks Peninsula.