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Iwi Guards Positioned At Maungatautari Ecological Island

April 8, 2011

Iwi Guards Take Up Position At Maungatautari Ecological Island

Events have taken a dangerous and militant turn at the Maungatautari Ecological Island project as new controller of the project, Ngati Koroki Kahukura, has placed sentries at the entry gates on Tari Road, at Pukeatua in the Waikato.

Last week the Maori family that owns the land at the point of entry on Tari Road decided they would weld the entry gates closed as they were not getting reasonable responses about concerns they have from Waipa District Council and the new Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust.

Following that it is alleged members of Ngati Koroki Kahukura then broke the welds. Ngati Koroki Kahukura member Willie Te Aho has since made media statements threatening that he would take the family trust involved to the Maori Land Court.

This episode once again raises the stakes in a long battle being played out following Ngati Koroki Kahukura’s coup that gained control of the ecological island Trust which has put them at odds with landowners, community supporters of the project and some Maori landowners.

Although his group is not involved in the incident, the Chairman of the Maungatautari Landowners Council Warren Charleston says this type of bullying behaviour by Ngati Koroki Kahukura is in line with what landowners have witnessed in recent times.

“There is an element involved in that group that isn’t thinking about the project or the mana of their people but about control at whatever cost.

“This incident shows we are right to be concerned and police, the councils and MEIT now have to consider whether it is safe for people to come to the mountain at the moment.

He says perhaps it was always part of the plan to remove public access covertly by making the place feel unsafe.

Community and Funder Group advocate Gareth Morgan says the bizarre behaviour by Ngati Koroki Kahukura should be recognised as a serious concern for the community and especially for landowners.

“The family involved owns the land; it is theirs. They are a well respected Maori family, absolutely reasonable people and have generously allowed access across their land for the benefit of the ecological island project for many years free of charge. They now have concerns and have not been listened to, treated arrogantly by Waipa DC and the new MEIT – and we know what that is like.

“The gates are on their land and so they have opted to weld them shut. But now Ngati Koroki Kahukura has decided that private land is not private land if they are involved. What an arrogant bunch of bandits this mob is.”

Morgan says when Ngati Koroki Kahukura first broke their agreements with landowners and community partners in the ecological island Trust there were concerns funders would walk away from the project and that has happened. There was also concern that the over 400 volunteers who make the project work on a day-to-day basis would walk away. He says he knows they were walking before this; he suspects those remaining will be at full sprint now.

Save Maungatautari Community and Funders Group coordinator Jack Jenkins says there is a need for people who can work through issues to step up in order to get the project back on track.

“We have worked well with the people of Pohara and Maungatautari marae in the past and we can again. I would urge local leaders to consider exploring different approaches with us. Clearly this aimlessly aggressive approach of recent times does nothing to enhance the mana of those two very important marae.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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