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Ministry Of Culture & Heritage Choosing To Transgress TapuDuring Level 3 Lockdown Antagonises Local Community

An antagonistic move today by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage intending to breach a Rāhui in pursuit of commencing construction has deeply shocked Tangata Whenua and members of the public.

In the last two weeks the Office of the Chief Ombudsman has put the Ministry and Auckland Council on notice after advising a formal investigation has commenced by the Chief Ombudsman into the consent process for the works.

Over the last fortnight letters sent on behalf of the community by Dame Naida Glavish have been dispatched to the Prime Minister and Ministry Chief Executive Bernadette Cavanagh requesting that the construction is to be stood down pending the outcome of the Ombudsman.

Land owner Waitematā Local Board has also raised concerns about the “disregard for mātauranga Māori” and the risk of “negatively impacting existing Crown-Māori relationships”. It encouraged parties to meet to resolve issues.

Despite these requests up to thirty security and construction contractors transporting fencing were sent to Mataharehare Pā site in Parnell for the purpose of starting construction on the National Erebus Memorial.

Members of the local community on guard to protect the whenua and an ancient 180 year old Pōhutakawa tree met the contingent. Many of the protectors were in disbelief about the intention by the Ministry to transgress tapu.

Once the workers found out about the Rāhui explained by Kaumatua on-site they chose to leave the site.

“The company that the contractors work for has a responsibility under the Health and Safety Act for the safety and wellbeing of their people. One of our hapu alerted them to the Rāhui being in place.”

“I reiterated that. It means that those workers are now aware of the Rāhui and that makes a difference.”

“If you are aware of a Rāhui and you know you are not meant to be there. I believe the company has a responsibility to their workers to make them aware before they are sent in,” says Steve Phillips.

The incident has galvanized the local community already grappling with the pressures caused by the lockdown less than 24 hours after the Prime Minister advised that Level 3 will endure for the next fortnight in Auckland.

“That choice by the government to force the situation against the backdrop of the Ombudsman investigation, right in the middle of a pandemic telegraphs a dangerous message to all of New Zealand,” says Dame Naida Glavish.

“Our mission is to continue to protect the heritage of an ancestral tree and the whenua that it stands on.”

“The Ministry’s determination to enforce the erection of an Erebus Memorial here in Tāmaki Makaurau that has nothing to do with Erebus is an indication of the direction that this government is heading in to do whatever it pleases whether New Zealanders like it or not.”


The proposed site for the National Erebus Memorial is Dove Myer Robinson Park, Parnell, Auckland Central.

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