Proposed route 'would split sacred area'

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012

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The Historic Places Trust and a Maori wahi tapu trust have strongly opposed the planned Kapiti expressway running through a registered sacred site just north of the Waikanae River.

Presenting its submission to a board of inquiry hearing yesterday, the Historic Places Trust said the proposed McKays Crossing to Peka Peka section of the expressway would physically sever the Takamore wahi tapu (sacred) area between two significant sites: a macrocarpa tree and the Takamore urupa (burial site.)

The expressway would also run through a Ngahuruhuru cultivation area and Tukurakau village, said Aleyna Hall, a lawyer acting for the trust.

"These sites will be affected by the construction of the expressway. It is very likely archaeological material will be discovered."

The trust opposed New Zealand Transport Agency consent applications to build the expressway through the wahi tapu area, but supported the rest of the proposed road.

"The Takamore wahi tapu area is a major part of the Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai ancestral landscape . . . of great significance . . . and national importance to New Zealand's history and heritage."

Human remains had been found on the western edge of the area.

The macrocarpa known as the Maketu was planted on the grave of a Whanganui chief of the same name. A wetland area connecting the tree with the urupa would be destroyed, she said.

Acting for Takamore Trustees, Leo Watson said the trustees accepted the road designation in general, including an alternative access across the Waikanae River, but believed the adverse effects on their cultural wellbeing, ancestral lands and wahi tapu could not be adequately mitigated by NZTA's proposals.

"Takamore Trustees are staggered by [NZTA's] view that their proposal would enable cultural wellbeing. It has left a sense of cultural alienation," Mr Watson said.

The expressway would also run through some Maori freehold land, including property owned by writer Patricia Grace.

Former Takamore Trust chairwoman Ani Parata referred to the long litigious background of trustees fighting to preserve and protect their wahi tapu.

Takamore submitters acknowledged that constructive communication had taken place with NZTA. The agency had designed the expressway route to skirt the urupa.

Save Kapiti presented its submission calling for State Highway 1 to be upgraded and the long-planned two-lane Western Link Rd retained.

Acting for Save Kapiti, Richard Fowler said the proposal would have a major impact on the shape of the district's landscape, "fracturing Kapiti with an expressway that will carve a relatively impermeable barrier through the district".

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- The Dominion Post

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