Sacred land recognised

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 08:44 24/01/2012

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Kapiti Observer

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Boosted Historic Places recognition for land near Waikanae's expressway interchange has been greeted as an important step by the trust charged with its protection.

Takamore Trust chairman Ben Ngaia said gaining the expanded boundaries for wahi tapu, or sacred, land had been "very worthwhile".

"It's important from the trust's position that it be formally acknowledged, as to the extent of the Takamore wahi tapu."

Mr Ngaia said trust negotiations with the NZ Transport Agency over the land, including urupa, or burial sites, has been slow.

Last May the agency announced a route through Waikanae that saved 14 homes but ran through part of the sacred land.

At the time Mr Ngaia said the trust would consider its options and would not rule out legal action over the decision.

On Friday he said the trust aimed to secure the least amount of "intrusiveness" from the planned expressway.

"The Takamore wahi tapu historically has been desecrated quite substantially by development of housing - the El Rancho Holiday camp itself and all the housing that runs through from Waikanae Beach."

The wahi tapu review was approved by the Historic Places Trust's Maori heritage council chaired by Sir Tumu te Heuheu.

In a media release, trust kaihautu, or manager, Te Kenehi Teira said it is obliged to act on a wahi tapu review request within one year of it being received.

"The new wahi tapu registration is an extension of the story of Te Ati Awa and its relationship with its allies from Whanganui. It also helps ensure the importance of the heritage in the land for Muaupoko and other iwi is formally recognised."

The registration could also bolster the Takamore case when it submits on the expressway plans to a Board of Inquiry deciding the consent for the at least $550 million project.

Mr Ngaia said one of the common difficulties in negotiations between Maori communities and the Crown has been putting a price on cultural values.

"There isn't a realistic price you can put on these kinds of things but what we are trying to secure is to have the least intrusiveness as possible. That could include beautification of the environment, to ensure the environment that isn't along the alignment will be protected and will survive through the impact."

Mr Ngaia said the majority of land within the expressway alignment is owned by Kapiti Coast District Council or the Crown, with other portions owned by iwi subtribes.

He said it is possible land around the designation could be acquired under the Public Works Act and protected by the Crown or managed by the trust as reserve.

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But even then the land could eventually be reacquired under the act and used if there's a need for further works, he said.

The expanded wahi tapu runs across an area including the Waikanae River and Kauri and Puriri roads, near Te Moana Rd.

- Kapiti Observer

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