This week MP for Waiariki, Rawiri Waititi was invited to attend a community hui at Hurungaterangi Marae in Ngapuna, Rotorua - where locals spoke of the physical and psychological suffering they are experiencing, caused by faulty sewerage plant infrastructure in their backyard.
“I smelt the problem before I got out of the car”, said Waititi. “The neighbourhood literally smelt like shit. The sewerage pump at the plant was broken and the pipes are too old causing leaks everywhere.”
“The smell is foul and is making the people physically sick. Their sewage systems are exploding and wastewater is being discharged into the Puarenga stream; their ancestral waters. Also, in heavy rain, the incompetent sewerage system means that sewerage overflows onto their properties. This has happened despite previous patch up jobs”
“I understand the Council has said that the issues have been resolved. Well they haven’t been. They’ve patched the job up, yes, but how enduring is this patch up? What is the long-term plan to prevent this from happening again? The fact that the water issues are fixed for the meantime, ignores the wider issues here,” said the Waiariki MP which includes Rotorua.
“The Council are not listening to mana whenua and they have had enough. They’ve been constantly fighting this battle since the 1960’s and it rears its head every decade or so and still nothing of substance has ever been done. They have been doing patch up jobs on this sewerage plant since it was established and they end up back at square one; shit in their backyards”
“Ngapuna want a long-term plan that they are involved in. They want the Council to appoint a delegate to remain in constant consultation and contact with the Hapū because they deserve more transparency. We want the old pipes replaced (not patched up) and pumps fixed immediately. Ultimately, the Ngapuna community want the plant and pipes removed and that needs to be incorporated into the city’s long-term plan which is being developed now.”
“Until these matters have been addressed, there is no resolution to the water issues just a patch up job” said Waititi.
“This is no different to what the Tauranga Moana people are experiencing in Whareroa. A small Māori community being invaded by industries; alienating indigenous peoples from their land with their toxic chemicals and the Councils are allowing it to happen”
“If this was a Pākeha community, or a rich one, the issue would be fixed straight away and a complete overhaul on the system would be in play. In fact, if it was a Pākeha community, the plant wouldn’t have been put there in the first place”
“It is about the health and wellbeing of the community. It is about equality. It is about honouring the Fenton Agreement. The Council’s negligence coupled with their disregard for the severity of this issue is concerning and they need to act on a long-term solution now”
“More than that though, it’s about honouring Hurungaterangi’s ancestral links to their lands, to their waters, their whakapapa, and supporting them to remain connected to their whenua, their way”
Keanu Flavell ([email protected] , +(64) 211 692 435)
Authorised by R Waititi, Parliament Buildings, Wgtn.