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“Taniwha Tax” culturally wrong and easily solved

“Taniwha Tax” culturally wrong and easily solved – says Maori academic

As developers and property owners face thousands of dollars in fees for Maori "cultural impact assessments" on thousands of sites across Auckland, a Maori academic says there is a simple solution to the situation.

David Rankin, who is currently undertaking a PhD on traditional property rights, estimates that of the named sites, over 99.9% have no significant cultural value at all.

“There are two clear reasons for this,” he says. “Firstly, the Auckland tribes do not know the significance of these sites themselves, so to claim they are important enough to charge people money to ‘clear’ these sites for development is obviously extortion. And secondly, they are not sacred because traditionally, tribes always removed tapu from regions after conflicts.

Ngapuhi – the last tribe to conquer Auckland lifted the tapu form the region. I know this because it was one of my ancestors who was the tohunga who did this.”

Mr Rankin, who is affiliated to several Auckland iwi, has long experience dealing with sacred sites, including most recently shifting and re-burying the bones of his ancestor, the nineteenth-century warrior Hone Heke.

“There is a simple solution to these cultural impact assessments, and it lies in traditional Maori culture.” Says Mr Rankin. “There are karakia and rituals used to lift the tapu off entire regions, and I propose to do this soon. After this time, no cultural impact assessments will be needed because culturally, there will no longer be any tapu on any site in Auckland”.


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