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"Clean Them Up Then Hand Them Back"

PRESS RELEASE

"Clean Them Up Then Hand Them Back"

Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party M.P. for Waiariki 26 March 20008

The Maori Party is pleased that Government is finally taking responsibility for decades of cumulative pollution, in the Rotorua lakes restoration programme announced today.

But Maori Party MP for Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell, spoke of the pain of the Arawa people, recognised in the Government's package to clean up the lakes.

"The Government has finally owned up to the tragic cost to our wellbeing as Te Arawa, our economic and tourist dollar, and our cultural and environmental health as a nation," he said. "The pain and offence caused by the lakes being so contaminated that they were described in 1969 as an "unflushed toilet" is part of a history we will not forget easily".

"Te Arawa have always understood the lakes as an integral part of ourselves," said Flavell. "The number of mahinga kai (food gathering and cultivation sites) among the lakes demonstrates their significance at the heart of our tribal rohe. The lakes are central in our concepts of waiora, mauri and whakapapa," he said.

"All of Te Arawa, and the whole country, have seen the results of the Crown usurping our rangatiratanga over our lakes and our resources" said Flavell. "Once the tangata whenua lost control, the health of the lakes went downhill. It is only right that the Crown should clean up the mess before it hands back full ownership of the lakes, including the waters, to the people who have their long-term well-being at heart - the tangata whenua," he said. "After that, we can ensure the polluter pays," he said.

"Our concern remains for the lakes on the margins - the lakes which have not been prioritised" said Mr Flavell. "While we fully support the efforts to clean up Rotorua, Rotoiti, Rotoehu and Okareka lakes, we can not turn our sight away from the other lakes which also require protection".


"Te Arawa is also worried about the long-term impacts of recent land use changes, which will affect the lakes for generations to come. The rush for lakefront houses and baches, and the boom in dairy prices, have increased pollution of our waterways.

"In the long term, Te Arawa as tangata whenua cannot escape the consequences of the environmental planning and management decisions we are making today. That is why our voices must be properly heard, and our people must be properly represented, on the local bodies making these decisions," Mr Flavell said.

ENDS

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