Topics: Environment, Water

Locals stage peaceful protest on Ōroua awa

By Wepiha Te Kanawa
Peaceful protest at Ōroua River

Community members staged a peaceful protest on Ōroua river today, urging council to make river conservation a priority.

Iwi say the objective of the protest is to uplift the mana of their ancestral river by creating public awareness of the health of their waterway.

This project has emerged from the application for consent which will allow the Manawatū District Council to sell the iwi's most precious taonga for the use and mis-use for commercial purpose.

Fielding iwi, Ngāti Kauwhata, have had enough with local government over their lack of concern over the pollution of their ancestral river, Ōroua.

A local kaumātua says a rāhui had been placed on the river since he was a small child because of how toxic the river is, and an environmental scientist says local government need to do more to protect their water ways.

It may look beautiful on top, but beneath the surface is a polluted river.

For nearly a century, Ōroua River in the small town of Feilding, has been the dumping ground for waste.

Mayor of Feilding, Margaret Kouvelis, was unavailable to speak on camera to Te Kāea, she also declined an invitation to the gathering on the river, but she did release a letter saying, "the river is fine to swim in, but if it looks dirty don't swim in it."

This has left local iwi confused.

Corina Jordan, an Environmental Scientist, says Ōroua is one of the worst polluted rivers in the region.

In the Mayor’s statement, she goes on to say, "if the river smells funny and you can see black slimy mat-like growths on the river stones, avoid using the river."

Ms Jordan says the Mayor is sending mixed messages to the residents.

Ōroua has a long way to go if it wants to reclaim its former glory, but local iwi Ngāti Kauwhata and Ms Jordan are adamant they can do it.