The power of Maori protest saves Tongariro

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(TangataWhenua.com Editor: perhaps if the organiser who spent so much time and energy on his “dream race”, first had a proper hui with the kaitiaki of Tongariro, he would have worked out a proper route. Cultural due diligence can go a long way Mr Hodder, sounds like u owe some big putea to your competitors, ana! Kia ora to Ngati Rangi!)

Original article in Stuff By MICHELLE COOKE)

A car race that winds through the country’s oldest national park has been cancelled after the local iwi called for people to sit on the road in protest of the event.

Ngati Rangi Trust executive manager Che Wilson said a car race was not the sort of event that the iwi wanted at Tongariro National Park, the world’s second-oldest national park and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Max Hodder, one of the organisers of this weekend’s Ohakune Giant 1000 race said the race was cancelled yesterday because the risk to the public’s safety was now too great for it to go ahead.

He was bitterly disappointed that his “dream race” had been called off and said the organisers had lost thousands of dollars, and the cancellation would be a “huge loss for the town”.

“We’ve got some very angry competitors out there. It’s very costly for us, we’ve had to give everybody money back.”

Hodder called off the race after Ngati Rangi put out a call in the local paper for people to protest against the event by sitting on the road and having a picnic.

“The police are concerned that if they get there and sit down on the road then they don’t have the resources to remove them.”

Thirty competitors from all over the country planned to travel to Ohakune for the race, which ran last year for the first time.

The race was to start at the Ohakune township before ascending the Turoa Ski Area access road. It incorporated 113 corners and cars would climb 1000 metres in 17 kilometres.

“It’s the challenge of that particular road – there aren’t many places in the country where you can do that.”

Wilson said the iwi had suggested two alternative routes but the organisers “weren’t interested in looking at anything else”.

“For some reason we were willing to compromise but there was no compromise from the committee,” he said.

“People just wanted to take their gas-guzzling machines onto the mountain. It’s just boys and their toys.”

Wilson said the iwi opposed the race last year and also took issue with it this year, on several grounds.

There was a risk of accidents, which could lead to fires and destroy the 1000-year-old forest, and it meant no-one else had access to the road for several hours.

Ruapehu District Council approved the road closure on Saturday, from 8am to 5pm.

Hodder said he couldn’t understand why it was an issue for 30 cars to do two trips up the mountain when some days during the peak ski season up to 5000 vehicles used the road.

“It just doesn’t add up,” Hodder said.

But Wilson said that because it was a rally race it added to the risk.

“Also, a rally on a mountain road will encourage people to hoon up the mountain and that’s the last thing we want.

“This is our national park and an international icon.”

He said the picnic would still go ahead on Saturday “not to oppose the rally but to celebrate the mountain and the park.”

Ruapehu mayor Sue Morris said she had been “quite nervous” about the event because the organisers hadn’t planned it well and had only approached the council a month ago.

However, the council did approve the road closure and agreed yesterday that the event could go ahead, but would have to find a different route next year.

– Stuff

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I love the Sport, love rally driving..always will but there’s a time & place for that. But this particular place is Sacred & it’s about time everyone understood that! Whether 5000 cars use that road or not in comparison to the 30 cars & Yes it would be good to bring money in etc.. But moneys nothing when it comes the Sacred:) & the Council couldn’t careless!!

  2. I reckon thats half the problem with the nation – too busy fulfiling the dreams of the arrogant – all for what?? to MAKE MONEY!!! How about getting back to a reality check and poring money into HOUSING for Families, Food productions – food produced in NZ is for NZers 1st!!
    QUOTE from above:
    MAX HODDER says: He was bitterly disappointed that his dream race had been called off and said the organisers had lost thousands of dollars, and the cancellation would be a huge loss for the town.

  3. How would 30 cars compare with up to 5000? Tourist who cant drive on snow and ice would be far more of a risk than professional drivers….. Isn’t it an exciting spectacle? Doesn’t it bring money into the region for all? Not just the organizers? 30 Cars cant make them much money…. I understand the concerns but I still go out in the rain even being at risk of getting struck by lightning…. I believe the Iwi should reconsider in the face of the economic benefit for all…. Do the Iwi own businesses that may profit from this event?

  4. This outcome restores my faith in the power of protest and wwhat it can achieve and to remain focussed on true values and not the dollar. I applaud the stance of Che Wilson and the people of Ngati Rangi. Kia kaha koutou

  5. when are you stupid stupid people going to listen to Maori …. they are a race that do things to look after everyone’s interest instead of the evil dollar that some people just can not seem to have enough of and just continue to want want and take take. Councils’ are no better off – they need to acknowledge the people of the land who know better than any one. Kia ora to Che Wilson

    • I TOTALLY CONCUR WITH ERANA MOHI … THE MAORI ARE WHOM IT BELONGS TO …
      A CAR RACE ??? THROUGH INDIGENOUS KULEANA ( RESPONSIBILITY) ???

      HAWAI’IAN STANDS OR SITS WITH HIS COUSINS IN THIS MATTER …

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