Landmark Decision For Damage To Ancient Pa Site
LANDMARK DECISION FOR DAMAGE TO ANCIENT PA SITE
A Northland company has been fined $15,000 for damaging an historic pa site at Uruti in the Bay of Islands in a landmark decision handed down today in the Auckland District Court
The case is the first prosecution by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust under the Historic Places Act since the legislation took effect in 1993. The $15,000 fine is to be paid to the Trust.
Judge DeoBhakta noted in his findings that the case represented a situation where a legally protected public interest had been seriously damaged.
The pa at Uruti, south of Russell, is sited within a historically significant wahi tapu area and valued by iwi/hapu due to the number of Maori who met their fate during the turbulent times of colonisation.
Prominent Maori figures at the time of colonisation, including Hone Heke and Pomare I are linked to the pa.
The site was damaged during upgrading of a track on the privately owned property, damaging terraces, midden, ditches, banks and other remnants of the pa.
The damage was brought to the Trust's attention following a complaint to the Department of Conservation by the Kororareka Marae Society.
"According to records, this site is of great importance not only to the local iwi/hapu but to the many Maori tribes with ancestors who visited the area and lost their lives at the time of early contact," says Dave Robson, the Trust's Maori Heritage Division Manager.
"The Trust is currently taking a much stronger position with respect to breaches of the archaeological provisions of the Historic Places Act and is currently investigating a number of other alleged offences around the country" says Elizabeth Kerr, Chief Executive, New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
"The decision that the fine is to be paid to the Trust is a significant signal to the community at large that our Maori heritage should be valued and protected for all New Zealanders".