May 10, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Memorandum Of Understanding To Seal Future Care Of Whangawehi

2 min read

A Memorandum of Understanding to ensure the protection and enhancement of the Whangawehi River and catchment area will be signed at a ceremony at Tuahuru Marae this Saturday, July 16.

The MoU is the result of more than a year of consultation and discussion between Wairoa District Council, Hawkes Bay Regional Council and Tangata Whenua of Mahia, represented by marae trustees of Kaiuku, Tuahuru, Ruawharo and Mahanga maraes, Mahia Maori Committee and landowners of the Whangawehi catchment.

Discussions arose prior to the granting of resource consent for the Mahia Beach Community Wastewater Scheme, part of which will be situated within the Whangawehi catchment area.

Several hui-a-iwi and regular monthly meetings have resulted in the creation of the MoU, which is being heralded as an important document for both the present and the future.

Tuahuru Marae representative Kathleen Mato says she recognised early on the need to be involved in the wastewater scheme in to help ensure the protection of the sacred awa (river).

The Memorandum of Understanding means a new beginning for the people of Rongomaiwahine in working with the Wairoa District Council. It has taken a lot of work to develop this document, but it is extremely positive in paving a way forward, she said.

WDC Engineering Manager Neil Cook said the MoU was an example of the genuine involvement with the community that council is striving for.

Tangata whenua have the opportunity to provide input into the development of the wastewater scheme, as well as playing an important role in the protection of their sacred sites.

The Environment Court decision to allow the project to go ahead emphasised that the scheme will enhance the Whangawehi River and catchment. That fact, combined with the support of the tangata whenua, WDC and HBRC, can only result in a strong future for the area, he said.

The MoU states that WDC will act to protect the integrity of the Whangawehi River and will involve tangata whenua in the design, management and operational aspects of the wastewater scheme. In the unlikely event that contamination should occur, WDC will do everything possible to rectify the situation. The agreement will be reviewed annually.

Around 100 people are expected to attend Saturdays signing ceremony, which will begin with a powhiri at 10am.

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