Iwi treated as 'dumb savages' - Kahungunu chairman

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Ngāti Kahungunu iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana says the iwi are being treated like 'dumb savages' in the Craggy Range walking track saga and the issue has brought out a racist one-way tirade from the community of Havelock North. 

Te Mata o Rongokako was given another scar on his eastern side without any iwi consultation and now it could be permanent.

"Before Christmas, Craggy Range agreed to remove the track to take it back to its original condition and we believed them that they would be true to their word," says Tomoana.

But just last week Craggy Range Winery realised fulfilling that promise might not happen after it commissioned a report into the land which found removing it was not a simple task.

"We were very upset because we believed them the first and then the second time but now they've turned that all around with what they said last week," says Tomoana

So he penned an open letter to Mary-Jeanne Hutchinson, the daughter of Craggy Range owner Terry Peabody saying the situation has bought up a racist tirade against Māori.

"In time I'm sure that I'll connect with Mary-Jeanne she has been a good friend of mine for a long time and I'm sure we can talk face to face to work this out".

The winery says it is disappointed in the letter and that it hasn't threatened legal action at all but instead could face legal action themselves if they attempt to remove the track.

"We've said that should mana whenua and Hastings District Council not be able to agree between themselves to any of the remediation solutions put forward by independent experts, then we would have no option but to resort to seeing through the resource consent that was granted by HDC on 17 October 2017 which is still legally binding," says Mike Wilding, CEO of Craggy Range Winery.

"We made this clear to Ngahiwi and other iwi leaders and Mayor Hazlehurst and council officials last Monday, 7th of May, when we gave them the details of the legal assessment we've received".

"I refute entirely Ngahiwi's claims that we are fanning racial tensions, when in fact we have done nothing more than put forward a set of open and reasoned arguments for the options that are open for them to decide from," says Wilding.