Writer says sacred land threatened by road

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012
TOO LATE: Patricia Grace learned of the possible loss of her ancestral land after consultations had closed.
SUNDAY STAR-TIMES
Opposed: Author Patricia Grace.

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Writer Patricia Grace has publicly opposed the Kapiti expressway, which will cut through her property where her ancestors buried the placentas of their offspring.

Grace, author of novels including Potiki and Tu, owns 983 square metres of Maori freehold land north of Waikanae River, where Tuku Rakau village was located.

"It is very special, waahi tapu," she said at a special sitting at Waikanae's Whakarongotai Marae yesterday of a board of inquiry hearing into New Zealand Transport Agency's application to build the McKays to Peka Peka expressway.

She had been served with a section 18 Public Works Act notice confirming "the Crown desires to acquire that part of your land".

"It is where my ancestors established their 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," said Grace, who is of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Ati Awa descent.

Takamore trustees had exercised kaitiakitanga, or guardianship, over the Takamore waahi tapu, including the village area, for many years.

She said her great-great-grandfather Wi Parata lived and had cultivations around the village. "Around 1884 he generously donated land to allow the railway to go through Waikanae. In 1895 he gave land for a government school and later presented a site for the Anglican diocese for St Luke's Church in Waikanae.

"I do not believe there should be any further alienation of Maori land, particularly our sites of cultural and historical importance. We know there are burials on my land as the dunes form part of the Takamore urupa and waahi tapu.

"Our ancestors have given so much to this community, let them lie in peace. The block of land was handed down through the generations and I am now the owner of a small portion. So little of our Maori freehold land remains in Maori hands."

Takamore Trust chairman Ben Ngaia said the trust remained opposed to the expressway running through the waahi tapu area between the urupa and a sacred Maketu tree.

Contact Kay Blundell
Kapiti reporter
Email: kay.blundell@dompost.co.nz

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