Hapū to restore mahinga kai despite council stuff-up

  • North Island: West Coast

South Taranaki hapū are calling on their regional and district councils to consider them in the sentencing of the Whanganui District Council over the effluent overflow at Mōwhanau.

Mōwhanau is a slice of paradise and a place of significance to the sub-tribes of Ngā Rauru.

Ngāti Tamareheroto descendant Te Huatahi Hawira says, "Our hapū Tamareheroto have big aspirations for Mōwhanau, we would like to reestablish a fishing village that we can actually use today and have access to."

But just last year raw sewage polluted the stream resulting in the successful prosecution of the Whanganui District Council by the Horizons Regional Council.

Hawira says, "We were absolutely disgusted.  Firstly because where the Mōwhanau Stream is was one of our mahinga kai and where the playground is situated- which is really close to the stream- is where our old pā kainga was."

The district council told Te Kāea they'd have preferred a more effective form of restitution and legal teams are the only ones being enriched by the prosecution. 

Mana whenua spokesperson Te Huatahi Hawira agrees.

"At the moment hapū is trying to establish those relationships with council and Horizons and first and foremost they should be talking to hapū."

Two spillages happened at Mōwhanau in January of last year, one following a power failure and one the result of a broken pipe.

Although the water is no longer contaminated, the prosecution process continues.

Horizons Regional Council strategy and regulation manager Dr Nic Peet says, “Sentencing is yet to happen so we don’t want to comment on that any further.  We are open to the suggestion from the court that should any financial penalty be determined that it is invested back into the catchment.”

Sentencing is set to take place in November.