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Flavell: Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill

Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill

Maori Party

Wednesday 14 June 2006

Te Ururoa Flavell, Environment Spokesperson

Our responsibilities to care for our ūkaipō, tūrangawaewae, takiwā and rohe are central in expressing the authority that whānau, hapū and iwi have over our ancestral land, resources and well-being.

Within this, we exercise the responsibility that we have towards the environment - certainly on behalf of those who will benefit from the legacy of this care - but we do so, also, in the respect we give to Papatuanuku - Mother Earth as a value that has been passed down generation by generations. We inherit the land from those ancestral links.

In our worldview, waste disposal can reduce or destroy the life-supporting capacity of soils. It damages the mauri, tramples over the life essence of the land. We must do our utmost to protect the environment and improve our capacity to live sustainably.

To this end, the Maori Party supports this Bill and commends Nandor and others for their initiative in bringing forward strategies to ensure a dramatic reduction of waste disposal by homes, businesses and public organizations. We are pleased to endorse the approach of making producers responsible, encouraging the design of environment-friendly products; and we endorse the ultimate aim of a Minimal Waste Society.

Tangata whenu have always been concerned about the release of pollutants into the environment such as sewage discharges, construction and demolition wastes, and hazardous wastes, into the environment.

We have an intense interest in the discharges to land, and the effects that those discharges could have on the mauri of water; waahi tapu and taonga such as food and weaving resources.

Indeed, so strong is our disgust of the amount of solid waste disposed of in landfills, cleanfills, and incinerators that our people often talk about by asking - “are you happy to treat your mother in such a way?” We teach our babies not to trample on Papatuanuku, on Mother Earth, and to pick up their litter. That is a responsibility that we can all take on to ensure the well-being and future health of the environment.

It makes one wonder why it has taken so long for such a sound and sensible idea to get to this chamber. It’s all very well to have a NZ Waste Strategy - but it is a waste of words if it lacks teeth. More weasel words are found in the Packaging Accord - where you can choose whether you want to reuse, repair and recycle - or you can just keep on going to the landfill. Well we need to get real.

This Bill will help to put incentives in all the right places so that producers and users, not the wider community, get real, and pay the costs of the waste they produce.

Having a landfill levy and other economic instruments such as a refundable container deposit are simple ideas that could help reduce our waste as much as 85%. They would be good ideas for the GDP - and even better for the GPI - the Genuine Progress Index.

The Maori Party is astounded that good ideas like this, economic benefits, health and well-being outcomes have simply been so considered so unimportant; so trivial; to this Government.

This House must recall with shame the thirty years of neglect that is associated with the Ivon Watkins-Dow plant at Paritutu which is one of the largest historical polluters in New Zealand. The Maori Party has repeatedly asked the Government to take seriously the health problems that have resulted from dioxin contamination, including birth defects, behavioural problems, diabetes and a strong association between exposure to dioxin and cancer risk.

Then just last months ago, the Special Rapporteur, Professor Rodolfo Stavenhagen referred to the situation in my electorate of Waiariki, urging “the Crown must take an active interest in supervising the compliance of the paper company in cleaning up the waste site at Kawerau and the waste disposal build-up at Maketu”.

These again, are not new issues - the Kaituna Claim was first lodged back in 1978. The Motunui-Waitara Report of the Tribunal in 1983 dealt with the discharge of effluent onto shellfish-gathering beds that were of significance for the Te Atiawa people. And in light of reference to Gisborne earlier today, we are aware of the ongoing anger of tangata whenua about the offensive discharge of sewage, domestic and industrial wastewater and solids by an outfall pipe flowing into the Poverty Bay area, which is a problem that dates back to 1964.

Mana whenua have consistently presented their objections to the environmental abuse, the contamination, the waste disposal build up. The ideas are not new - but it took an expert from overseas to point it out - and then he was treated with a barrage of abuse for telling it how it is.

We, in the Maori Party, are extremely pleased to support this Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill, in order to reduce the production of wastes at source; to minimize waste in production, packaging and transport; and to encourage all New Zealanders to ‘take responsibility for Aotearoa’ now before it is too late.

ENDS

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