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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Environment Court limits wind farm expansion

A Manawatu iwi group is welcoming an Environment Court decision allowing Mighty River Power to put four extra turbines on its Motorimu wind farm.

The court said the 79-turbine farm was probably all that part of the Tararua ranges could sustain, and other proposals were unlikely to get approval.

John Procter from Tanenuiarangi Manawatu Incorporated, which represents Rangitane interests in the region, says the state owned company consulted the iwi on how it could protect significant sites like waahi tapu, bush and historic pa from the effects of the development.

“From the outset of the project we were given the opportunity io protect our sites and gave greater recognition to some areas and the project of the Motorimu company also encourage that and gave us greater recognition in some of the areas up there,” Mr Procter says.


John Key says National's proposed tax cuts will be a big help to Maori workers.

The party has unveiled a $16 billion package to be funded by changes to KiwiSaver and the removal of some business tax credits.

Mr Key says he is aware a lot of Maori are in the lower income bracket, but they will still get something.

“A lot of those people will be on the minimum wage. They’re working 20 hours a week, earning just under $25. They get $15 a week under us. Now that’s a lot I think when you consider we’re doing our best. We couldn’t have done that under a tax cut. We’ve done that through a rebate, so I think that’s very important. If you add it to the $12 they got a few weeks ago, all of a sudden their income’s up $27 a week,” Mr Key says.

He's heartened by a Maori Television poll indicating up to 15 percent of Maori were considering giving National their party vote - a big jump from the 4 percent it got in the Maori seats last election.


A Bay of Island kuia says the Waitangi National Trust is more concerned with its commercial activities than fulfilling its commitments to heritage or the tangata whenua.

Emma Gibbs is challenging the trust's right to stage a theatre piece based on the life of Maikuku, an ancestress of associated with a cave below the Treaty Grounds.

She says the trust didn't consult with Maikuku's descendants, Ngati Kawa and Ngati Rahiri, and its priority seems to be the proposed visitors centre to be built behind the historic Whare Runanga.

“They want this big visitor centre. It’s just a big shop. They don’t even care about the aesthetic environment that a lot of our Pakeha relations want as well. That open space is just so beautiful and this big shop stuck ion our faces is not going to help. And it does not acknowledge the values of the Treaty of Waitangi which that particular trust are supposed to be promoting the relationship between the people, and here we are being treated with utter disdain,” Mrs Gibbs says.

Pita Paraone, the vice chairman of the trust, says Mrs Gibbs was given the opportunity to talk to the trust this week, but she walked out of the meeting.


A Maori education group is praising the Environment Court for putting the brakes on wind farms in the Manawatu.

Palmerston North based He Kupenga Hao i Te Reo bought land near Te Mata ridge in the northern Tararua range five years ago to build an eco-retreat for running total immersion wananga.

Kaimahi Ian Christensen says the development stalled because of concern over the proposed Tokomaru wind farm, but could resume now the court has ruled Mighty River Power's Motorimu wind farm may be all the region can take.

“The closest turbine was to be 600 metres away. In terms of the noise generated by the turbines as well as the visual effect above you, proposed to be 125 metres high, building a retreat, a place of peace and tranquility, that was pretty much going to be devastated,” Mr Christensen says

The Motorimu decision should spell the end of He Kupenga Hao i Te Reo's three-year fight against the Tokomaru wind farm.


Labour leader Helen Clark says National's prison policy ignores the chance of redemption.

National wants to build a new 300 million dollar prison to house the extra 500 prisoners who will be caught by its proposal to deny parole to anyone convicted of a second violent offence.

Maori groups have decried the plan because of the disproportionate number of Maori prisoners and the shortage of rehabilitation programmes.

Ms Clark says it's a callous and short sighted policy.

“They want to ignore any remorse, any repentance, any redemption, and conversion, being highly religious, as many of our prisoners do convert over time, not of that matters to the National Party. As far as they are concerned, you can be convicted of a second violent offence at the age of 17 and stay in jail until you die. Well I think ridiculous,” Ms Clark says.


One of the pioneers of iwi radio was laid to rest today.

John Maketu Simpson, the former station manager of Ngati Awa's Whakatane-based Sun FM, died earlier this week on his way to the annual hui of Te Whakaruruhau, the iwi radio umbrella group. He was 56.

Wiremu Pryor, Sun FM's current manager, says after a career which included spells at Tasman Pulp and Paper and the Health Ministry in Wellington, Mr Simpson return to Whakatane to assist in iwi and hapu affairs.

He was brought into the new iwi station in 1993 after it encountered teething problems.

“He managed it. He’s also chaired the board and he’s been very active in the radio station. He’s very passionate about his Maori, to try to recoup the loss of ground for the Maori language which has occurred, and he was a hard worker for getting that back, and he's done a good job,” Mr Pryor says.

John Simpson was buried today after his tangi at Taiwhakaea marae next to Whakatane airport.


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