Protestors plan sacred site declaration to block landfill

Mikaera Miru makes the case for rāhui at Wellsford Community Centre.

Campaigners at a Fight the Tip meeting at the Wellsford Community Centre on May 13 voted overwhelmingly to support a rāhui as part of its continuing efforts to prevent a landfill being situated on the side of the Dome Valley.

In Maori culture, a rāhui is a form of tapu (spiritual restriction) imposed on an area or resource by local guardians.

The decision came following a passionate speech by kaumatua Mikaera Miru, of Waiotea marae, who said a rāhui was a customary Maori practice effectively acknowledged by the Resource Management Act.

“It is in our control to place a rāhui. We must facilitate it and fight to maintain it,” he said.

Mr Miru said to initiate the rāhui it would be necessary to contact all the marae and tribal entities around the Kaipara Harbour to come to a hui to discuss the issue along with Pakeha.

Afterwards, Mr Miru said he anticipated the rāhui declaration should take place as close as possible to the landfill site with hundreds in attendance to make a resounding political statement.

He said he had every confidence a rāhui would succeed. Earlier rāhuis placed over the Kaipara Harbour in 1997 and 2012 had successfully halted the rape of the harbour by commercial fishermen and had stopped a $600 million Crest Energy tidal turbine project.

Mr Miru’s speech followed a talk by Northland MP Matt King, who said the Fight the Tip campaign’s concerns regarding the potential of leachate from the landfill to pollute waterways and the Kaipara Harbour, and wreak enormous environmental damage was entirely valid.

Moreover, he shared the additional concern regarding 300 waste trucks a day travelling in and out of the Dome Valley – a notoriously dangerous section of State Highway 1.

Mr King said a 1200-signature petition presented to Parliament by Fight the Tip urging that no landfills be built near waterways had been sent to Parliament’s Environment Select Committee. The committee could either “kick the petition into touch” or launch an enquiry into the concerns raised.

However, Mr King said Fight the Tip’s best hope was when Waste Management’s resource consent application to build the landfill was publically notified by Auckland Council.

“That’s when you need to stand up, make some noise and target the council process, because that is the way you are going to stop it,” he said.

Mr King understood Waste Management planned to lodge its resource consent application at the end of May.

The hui to discuss the imposition of a rāhui to prevent the landfill will be held at the Wellsford Community Centre on Sunday, June 9, at 1pm. Maori and Pakeha are invited. 

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