Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Iwi toxic on Patea fire

Iwi in South Taranaki are outraged and the way they've been treated in the wake of yesterday's fire which destroyed the derelict Patea freezing works.

About 300 residents were evacuated because of the asbestos threat from the smoke and debris.

Haimona Manuera, the interim chairperson of Ngati Ruanui says, says people don't believe the regional council's advice that it's safe to go home if they wear masks and close their windows.

He says communication between tangata whenua and Civil Defence and local government has been almost non-existent.

“The majority of people who are affected are Maori, ewither Ngati Ruanui or Nga Rauru. And we found we haven’t been part of the process either of Civil Defence or even up to date now with the discussions and the continuation as to what’s going to carry on,” Mr Manuera says.

He says many in the tribes rely on farming or fishing, and they're anxious their kai could be contaminated.

CLAIMATE CHANGE LAW PRUNES FOREST SETTLEMENTS

The five iwi which have already settled forestry claims want changes so they're not penalised by climate change legislation.

The concerns of the five - Waikato-Tainui, Ngai Tahu, Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau, Ngati Awa and Te Uri o Hau - were among the issues put to ministers by a delegation of iwi leaders at Waitangi this week.

Consultant Willie Te Aho, who has been organising climate change hui, says they're concerned the new law will slash the value of their settlements.

“They bought those forest lands at highest and best use price. Now they are being told that those lands must remain within forestry, and if they do not keep them in forestry and wish to deforest or change the use for higher better economic use, they must pay the equivalent penalty, and that is estimated to be about $13,000 per hectare,” Mr Te Aho says.

The Government also wants to hold back carbon credits on Crown Forest Licence land as a bargaining chip in negotiations with other iwi.

HEADWINDS HOLD BACK TE AURERE TOUR

Unpredictable weather is playing havoc with plans to circumnavigate the North Island in a traditional waka.

Hekenukumai Busby wants to lead a crew on his fourth trip around Te Ika a Maui in the double-hulled Te Aurere, but the constant headwinds means it's not safe to set sail.

Instead the Taitokerau-based tohunga may hold wananga in regions the waka had intended to visit.

The promise of a week-long wananga in the north for the best students may be all the motivation they need to learn.

“It's surprising how quick they can learn. Of course they’re all keen and if they keep making mistakes, they won’t actually be allowed to pull a paddle,” Mr Busby says.

ASBESTOS SMOKE EFFECT FEARED

Maori in Patea are seeking independent medical advice after yesterday's fire at the town's derelict freezing works.

Tenaari Wright, Ngati Ruanui's environment officer, says the iwi believes the risk factors have been played down.

She says the people don't trust what the local councils are saying about the after affects of the blaze.

“The fire brigade, they wouldn’t enter there to put the fire out for several hours because of those risks and given that all of that asbestos went up into the atmosphere, where does it go to. It lands all over the trees, all over the rooftops, gets the water ways, into our children's clothes,” Mrs Wright says.

She says Patea's marae have been checking on the immediate needs of iwi members.

WARDENS MAKE DAY ONE OF THE BEST

Northland's police iwi liaison officer is thanking the Maori wardens for what he's calling one of the best Waitangi Days.

Paddy Whiu says with almost 50,000 people crossing the bridge to the Treaty Grounds, there were only a handful of minor incidents.

Even the ritual hikoi and stand-off around the flagpole were relatively brief.

He says it was the first year wardens took responsibility for security, and the extra resourcing and training they've had in the past couple of months showed its value.

“Their ahua, their attitude, their way of walking around our people and in amongst them was a calming effect but also our people respect our warrens, and they had a fantastic impact on Waitangi Day,” Mr Whiu says.

The Taitokerau wardens were supported by others from around the country.

WARTIME FOUNDERING COUNTRY’S WORST SHIP DISASTER

It's the anniversary of a significant event in the Land Wars.

On this day in 1863, the HMS Orpheus loaded with British reinforcements for the invasion of the Waikato sunk on the Manukau Bar.

The 21 gun steam-driven corvette was modern and powerful, but it was no match for the taniwha at the harbour entrance, where channels change daily.

Marlene Boyd from the National Maritime Museum says that the ship had out of date charts and missed signals from the shore indicating it was headed for trouble.

189 of the 259 people on board died in what is still the country's worst maritime disaster.

“It's a very sad story given that nobody on board the ship could swim, and that was the norm with sailing and steamships of that era, so if they did end up in the sea, they would drown quickly,” Ms Boyd says.

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