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Act Now For Ngawha! – Peace Movement Aotearoa


20 September 2002

Kia ora,

On Tuesday, 24 September, support the Ngawha people who are opposing the construction of the prison on wähi tapu:

~ Wellington - 12 noon at the Head Office, Department of Corrections, 44-52 The Terrace (next door to Starbucks);

~ Auckland - 12 noon outside the Auckland District Court, Albert Street;

~ Kaikohe - 2-30pm (appearance time) at the Kaikohe District Courthouse.

If you are somewhere else, you can still support the Ngawha people:

1) Please write to Mark Gosche (Minister of Corrections) about the prison construction work - a summary of background information and contact details are included below. He is currently reviewing the decision, and will be meeting with the Ngawha people on 26 September, so letters in support of stopping the prison would be particularly useful at this time. More detailed information is available on-line at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/ngawha.htm

2) If you wish, you can join some of the Ngawha people, including Riana WiHongi, who will be fasting and praying on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for their meeting with Mark Gosche on Thursday. The desired outcomes of the meeting are: that Mark Gosche will be open to fully reviewing the decision to build the prison at Ngawha and will stop work on the site immediately; that he will hear the voice of the people and stop the construction of the prison on wähi tapu; and that he will commit himself to taking the opportunity being offered to work with Ngä Puhi on their vision of positive ways forward for the future - for the children and the land.

*** Background information

When the Northland Regional Council refused to give resource consent for the construction of the prison on wähi tapu at Ngawha on spiritual and cultural grounds, Matt Robson (then Minister of Corrections) appealed against the ruling.

The Environment Court overturned the Northland Regional Council's decision - ignoring the physical instability of the site, and ruling that the Court could deal only with things secular and that Maori spiritual and cultural beliefs were irrelevant. This shameful decision has now been supported by the High Court. It is a disgraceful breach of the Resource Management Act which states:

"all persons exercising functions and powers under it [the Act], in relation to managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources, shall take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi)." RMA, Section 8.

The Environment and High Courts should be stopping the desecration of wähi tapu, not making decisions which approve dishonourable destruction.

*** Dangerous mercury released into drinking water supplies

Construction work on the site is increasing the levels of mercury in the Ngawha stream which runs into the Waiaruhe River, then into the Waitangi River - where Waitangi and Paihia residents get their drinking water.

Northland Regional Council announced on 3 June that "the Department of Corrections has been told to halt all major earthworks on the construction site" during the winter months, May to October, but work continues.

On 10 June the 'Northern Advocate' reported that "mercury levels in the stream had reached a 'trigger level' of 5.4 parts per billion, compared with the 'satisfactory' level of two parts per billion." Since June heavy rainfall and rising ground water levels have increased the runoff from the site resulting in more mercury contamination.

Mercury is extremely toxic and its release into the environment is a major health hazard.

*** Act now for Ngawha! What you can do

* Write to the Minister of Corrections, Mark Gosche, congratulating him on his decision to review the decision; demand that the work on the construction site be stopped immediately, and that the prison must not be built at Ngawha. Contact details: fax (04) 495 8468, mgosche@ministers.govt.nz or write to him at Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp needed).

* To support the campaign to stop the destruction of Ngawha - you send a cheque made payable to The Dove Account, to PO Box 601, Kaikohe (include your name and address if you would like a receipt).


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Peace Movement Aotearoa
the national networking peace organisation
PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Tel +64 4 382 8129, fax 382 8173 email pma@xtra.co.nz
PMA website - http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/
Internet Peace Gateway - http://www.peace.org.nz
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