Aug 19, 2013

Updated: Desecration of wāhi tapu is morally repugnant

One of this Government’s many disturbing characteristics is its indifference towards the effect of its infrastructure projects on Māori wāhi tapu. We have seen on multiple occasions that it will prioritise the interests of the trucking industry above all others in relation to major motorway projects. It’s actions have been morally repugnant.

I have previously blogged here on the Kāpiti Expressway and at that time I labeled it ‘an attack on community values and tangata whenua rights’. This was when the EPA gave the green light to this massively destructive project that is opposed by the vast majority of the Kāpiti Coast community, Māori and Pākehā.

The latest development in this sad saga is the decision of the Government to ‘turn the sod’ on their project this week before the Māori Land Court has decided upon the appeal of Patricia Grace and the High Court has decided upon action from Save Kāpiti and the Alliance for a Sustainable Kāpiti. Patricia Grace is an affected free-hold land owner, and along with the Takamore Trust and the Historic Places Trust is actively opposing the project that will desecrate our turangawaewae.

Grace, who is of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Ati Awa descent, made an impassioned submission at an expressway hearing before the road was given the go-ahead.

"It is where my ancestors established homes, gardens and constructed birthing units, and buried the placenta [pito] of their offspring back into the whenua.

"It is where they discussed, negotiated and made important decisions for life and survival.

"I do not believe there should be any further alienation of Maori land, particularly sites of cultural and historical importance. We know there are burials on my land . . . our ancestors have given much to this community, let them rest in peace. So little of our Maori freehold land remains in Maori hands."

Her great-great-grandfather Wi Parata lived in and had cultivations around the village, she said. She has applied to the Maori Land Court for the land to be set apart as a Maori reservation.

The Chairperson of the Takamore Trust Ben Ngaia has said “our standards will never be met, because we are foremost opposed to a road destroying our wāhi tapu, despite every effort made by NZTA to try and alleviate the concerns, at the end of the day a road is still going through our wāhi tapu and our people feel aggrieved as a result.”

The Government wants to portray that the result of this project is a foregone conclusion, but they have a long way to go to build this motorway, and we still have time to oppose them.

Opposition group Save Kāpiti has planned a protest at the ‘turn-the-sod’ ceremony which will be attended by ministers, most likely Nathan Guy and Gerry Brownlee.

I would encourage Kāpiti residents, and anyone who cares deeply about tangata whenua rights to come and support this protest and stand in solidarity with Patricia Grace, Takamore and Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai. It is scheduled for Thursday 22 August at 12 noon at 220 Otaihanga Road, just outside Southward Car Museum.

This may be our last chance to protest this before the bulldozers move in.

This is the last unspoiled wāhi tapu on the Kāpiti Coast and we must unify as Māori like our tupuna did to protect it.

UPDATE: The New Zealand Transport Agency has announced that they are no longer intending to hold the ceremony this week and that it was just an 'option' to do so. I think this is revealing of the situation; Gerry Brownlee would have been pushing NZTA to get on with it, despite High Court action. Brownlee himself is probably been pushed by Steven Joyce, who is the architect of the Roads of National Significance projects. NZTA clearly have a bit more sense than they do.

However, they will continue to rush forward with these projects so that it if Labour and the Greens enter Government in 2014, the projects will be irreversible.

The fight goes on, we must stand in solidarity against this top-down Government oppression of tangata whenua and the wider community.

Post by Jack Tautokai McDonald


  1. I refuse to call it an expressway - It's SH1 rediverted for God's sake. It's a MOTORWAY! This whole thing started as a lie and has continued in that vein - lies upon lies. It's about corruption, ego, and stupdity. These monkeys must be stopped!! The most repugnant aspect is trampling through the Wahi Tapu and it frustrates me that Takamore aren't being outright stroppy and defiant. Tbe time for niceness is over in my view. Call the scumbags out for what they are!

    1. Yes you are right Bos. I shouldn't call it an expressway, it is a motorway at best, a trucking bypass at worst.

      And yes I think we should be more defiant, including tangata whenua. I imagine they are still in negotiations with NZTA but I doubt that will last much longer.

  2. What I can't grapple with is why the government gave the road priority to begin with. From what I've seen - admittedly little - the road appears to be a solution looking for a problem. Current traffic volumes don't support the need for it. And the process - horrific.



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