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Māori Women Lead The Struggle As Rāhui Gains Support

Conservationists on the upper Coromandel are joining forces to back iwi demands for a halt to pending 1080 poison operations on their sacred mountain.

The sanctuary and landcare groups have stated their support for a Rāhui placed on Moehau mountain by Rangatira Frances Henare of Rongo-Ū. Rongo-Ū and the hapu of Te Pa-tu-ta-tahi iwi are mana whenua of Moehau mountain at the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula.

The Department of Conservation has announced an extensive aerial poisoning operation on Moehau for May or June this year, with abutting landowner notifications currently underway. The planned 1080 poison drop would span 4,500 ha of previously successfully trapped terrain.

Frances Henare has declared, “The Rāhui is enacted to protect the wairua, the mauri and the well-being of Moehau, Toxic chemicals are not permitted to be used in our sacred area. Rongo-Ū and the hapu Te Pa-tu-ta-tahi iwi have never given consent to DOC or anyone else to represent their lands of inheritance. We will no longer be silenced and if DOC persists in denying us our right to object it will prove to be their downfall.”

Neighbouring Ngāti Huarere has declared full support for the Rongo-Ū Rāhui. Vice Chair of the Ngāti Huarere ki Whangapoua Trust Wanda Brljevich said the trust is “unanimously opposed to the (1080) drop on Moehau. We support humane toxins like cyanide if absolutely necessary. Otherwise, hunting and trapping is our preference for pest and predator control.”

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In nearby Harataunga Kennedy Bay, the Mihihara Harrison Whānau Trust’s Sally Mihihara Steedman said, “We fully support the current Rāhui placed over our maunga tapu Moehau against the continued use of poisons. You cannot poison the whenua back to health. The only beneficiaries from poison are the manufacturers of it and the scurrilous and unscrupulous users of it. Poison has no land and no mana.”

Local Coromandel conservation groups joining the call to respect the Rāhui include the Manu Waiata Restoration & Protection Society, Coromandel Landcare Association, Waiau Hawk and Morepork Sanctuary, Coromandel Our Backyard, and the Upper Coromandel Landcare Association (UCLA).

The National Environmental Advocacy group Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa spokesperson Asha Andersen said “We fully support this Rāhui and all others like it, where manawhenua and the local community have placed protections against chemical poisoning of the environment and wildlife. This sacred Rāhui must be honoured.”

In response to concerns raised by local conservationists regarding lack of respect for mana whenua of Moehau, the Environmental Protection Agency have initiated an investigation into DOC’s consultation methods.

“Rangatira, Frances Henare of Koputauaki has taken this courageous action against government policy that uses cruel toxins to kill wild animals,” the Coromandel conservation groups have jointly stated. “It is a policy that continues to be supported by National, Labour and the Greens who refuse to listen to hapu, iwi and rural communities.”

The Ministers of Conservation, Maori Development, and Finance have been advised of the Moehau Rāhui by Rongu-Ū and asked to formally respond by April 13 whether the ministries will respect the Rāhui by calling for a halt to the aerial toxin operation.

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