Opposition to a mega landfill on Springhill Station, between Warkworth and Wellsford, ratcheted up a notch yesterday when a hui in Wellsford unanimously supported placing a rahui on the landfill site.
The motion was put by Ngati Whatua, with the support of iwi from around the Kaipara Harbour, and seconded by Fight The Tip - Save the Dome, the organisation spearheading opposition to the landfill.
Waste Management, the company proposing to build the landfill, lodged a resource consent with Auckland Council on March 31. The consent can be viewed at Wellsford Library and the Council service centre in Warkworth.
While a rahui has no legal standing, it is not invoked lightly and has a powerful cultural significance.
A conservation rahui was placed in the Tinopai area in 1997 to protect the fisheries in that area and, in 2012, a political (aukati) rahui was placed over the mouth of the harbour to stop Crest Energy developing a massive water turbine plant.
Kaumatua Richard Nahi said iwi were supporting the landfill aukati to ensure that “the protection and preservation of the environment (Te Taiao) is upheld at all times”.
About 280 people attended the Wellsford meeting, which was organised by the Fight the Tip committee. Campaigner Michelle Carmichael gave an update on the campaign to date.
A 1200-signature petition was presented to Parliament by Labour list MP Marja Lubeck in March urging the Government to ban landfills near waterways. The committee was also finalising a submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee.
Michelle said the Waste Management site ignored Ministry for the Environment guidelines that specifically stated that landfills should avoid aquifers, wetlands, areas of instability, at risk flora and fauna, and areas of high rainfall.
Mikaera Miru presented the case for the rahui giving some cultural context and understanding of what the rahui would mean.
“We cannot stand by and let our moana be desecrated by the poisons that will flow out of the Hoteo landfill,” he said. “As kaitiaki (guardians), we have a responsibility to place a political rahui over the whenua to prevent the landfill beside the Hoteo River.”
Speakers from the floor raised a number issues ranging from the need to move away from landfill to waste recovery and incineration to the poor performance of other landfill sites. But the over-riding theme was the unacceptable risk that the landfill posed to the immediate environment, the Hoteo River and the Kaipara Harbour.
One resident spoke about the role the river and harbour played in sustaining local families, and many recounted their association with the river and the harbour over many generations.
“It holds the stories of our ancestors and the health of the river means everything to us,” the speaker said.
Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith said that while the landfill was outside his jurisdiction, he opposed it on a personal level and would be encouraging Kaipara District Council to do what it could.
The rahui will be placed on the land by members of Ngati Whatua at a dawn service this Saturday, 6am for a 6.30am start.