Couple plan to protest eviction
Marae stands by decision to remove pairHEATHER SIMPSON
A couple fighting their eviction from Omaka Marae and their supporters will protest outside their home today.
Doug and Ina Cunniffe were given until today by Omaka Marae Committee to vacate the flat they had lived in for 16 years and considered their retirement home.
Doug, 81, and Ina, 74, have refused to leave and will be supported in their protest by family members, Omaka Marae founding member Bill Te Huia, his wife Jeanette Te Huia and Maori Women's Welfare League member Gemma McKinney.
Protesters would be holding placards saying ‘stop the eviction' and ‘have respect for kaumatua'.
Doug Cunniffe said they would not consider living elsewhere and couldn't afford the cost of moving including the $3000 it would take to remove and re-install a heat pump and range they had installed in the house.
At least one person would have to remain in the property at all times to stave off the eviction, he said.
The Cunniffes and their daughter Di Goulding have fought for three months against the eviction.
An online petition in support of the Cunniffes has attracted 448 signatories.
Mediation talks had been held between the Cunniffes and the committee. Under a proposal put forward, the couple had hoped the eviction would have been withdrawn prior to the eviction deadline.
However, correspondence broke down after the committee asked the couple and their daughter Di Goulding to publicly apologise for Facebook and online comments about the marae.
Doug Cunniffe said he did not know what he was apologising for and was fighting the eviction out of principle.
Attempts by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene to resolve the situation had failed.
Gemma McKinney is a member of Maori Women's Welfare League whose parents were founding members of the marae.
"They have treated these kaumatua like third world citizens," McKinney said.
"There is no respect for their elders. This eviction is a social injustice. My mother and father would be devastated if I didn't do anything to help them in their plight.
"If Maori people let this happen to people in our own community what future do we have?"
- The Marlborough Express
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