Maori Party speak out against reaction to closing of Okahu Bay

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Okahu Bay Beach

The Maori Party is speakingout at reactions to the closing of Auckland’s Okahu Bay last Saturday for a Ngati Whatua family event. They have deemed the reactions”appalling” and “racist” according to TVNZ reports.

Ngati Whatua Orakei has put a public notice in local newspaper East and Bays Courier saying Okahu Bay beach on Tamaki Drive will be closed to the public from 6am to 4pm this Saturday.

The Iwi advertised, it would be holding its annual Mokopuna Day there for the first time.

Reactions on social media last week about the decision were too offensive and abusive to publish and some people even threatened in posts to “gatecrash” the event TVNZ.co.nz reports.

Maori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said “The anger expressed over the closing of Okahu Bay for one day of the year so Ngati Whatua can celebrate its tamariki on its own land is appalling.”

It raises serious questions about the rules and regulations surrounding public beaches and places.

The Maori Party says the beach is part of a 48 hectare “Whenua Rangatira” block owned by Ngati Whatua which includes the reserve behind the beach.

Since 1991, the area has been managed jointly by the tribe and Auckland Council through the Ngati Whatua Orakei Reserves Board.

Fellow Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says aside from Ngati Whatua’s traditional relationship with Okahu, they also have a legal right under the Reserves Act to request exclusive use of a public area.

According to the Reserves Act, a private group can have exclusive use of a reserve on selected days but never more than six days in a row.

“No one bats an eyelid when sporting events and other community groups close off a reserve for a day to use for a private purpose. It’s galling that some members of the public apply such a blatant double-standard to iwi,” says Mrs Fox.

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