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Historic Places Trust must see sense

Historic Places Trust must see sense

National MP John Carter is urging the Historic Places Trust to see sense over a legal wrangle with the commercial arm of the Far North District Council that threatens to cost taxpayers and ratepayers big money.

"It is now clear that the Historic Places Trust is determined to make an example of Far North Holdings Ltd, the commercial arm of the council, after it rejected a reasonable compromise which could have served everyone's best interests."

Mr Carter is referring to a year-long row over the alleged destruction of an archaeological site at Waitangi. The site included late pre-contact shell middens and the remains of small earth ovens.

"I saw this as a gross misuse of ratepayer and taxpayer money and set about trying to arrange a commonsense compromise," he says.

"Rather than spending huge amounts of money defending this charge, I suggested that Far North Holdings spend it protecting some of the other significant archaeological sites in Northland.

"For example, there are significant middens at Reef Point, at Ahipara, west of Kaitaia, which are being destroyed and need to be protected.

Mr Carter's suggestion has gained support from Far North Holdings, Mayor Yvonne Sharp, Ian Walker, the private landowner affected, and from the Minister in charge of the Historic Places Trust, Judith Tizard, and Conservation Minister Chris Carter, whose department administers the land where some of the middens are.

"But the Historic Places Trust, after initially expressing support for the proposal, is digging its toes in after taking advice," says Mr Carter.

"The only winners out of this legal argument will be the lawyers - it is too late to save the area at Waitangi.

"Instead of pouring good money after bad, the Historic Places Trust could accept the suggesttion I have put forward and ensure that these other historic sites are preserved.

"I'm calling on the Historic Places Trust to review its decision to prosecute. It's an incompetent use of public funds that could be turned into a win-win for all parties," says Mr Carter.

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