EPA meets with concerned iwi over administration of sea burials

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) fronted today over growing concerns among iwi at its administration of sea burials off the Northland coast.

The Ngāti Kuta and Te Patu Keha, hapū of the Bay of Islands, will join Far North iwi at a hui in Kaitaia.

Te Kāea reporter Dean Nathan says initial reaction and growing concern being voiced by local Māori regarding the decision, representatives of the EPA charged with administering these burials met with them today to hear their perspectives and concerns on this issue.

Ani Manuera of Te Whānau Moana hapū says, “I want some answers who gave them the right.  Who spoke on behalf of us to do something like that to make those decisions that's all we want to know?”

An area off Northland's East Coast is one of five places already chosen as suitable for burials at sea.

Doug Jones of the EPA says,”We are well aware that this is a significant issue for all Māori, not only for the people of Ngāti Kahu but for all Māori.

We've come to talk and listen and consider options that will allow us to move forward on this issue.”

Today’s meeting with the EPA was called by Ngāti Kahu, but representatives of hapū right along Northland's East Coast were present.

Taika Tukariri of Matarahurahu hapū says, “We are angry because what's been decided is foreign to our own customs. I don't really know where that custom comes from.”

The EPA say that until discussions with the people at today's meeting are complete, they will not be releasing any statements relating to the administration of burials at sea.