Passionate pleas at fish farm hearing

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 16:00 04/10/2012

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Maori lore clashed with economic development at the New Zealand King Salmon hearing at the Waikawa Marae near Picton yesterday.

The Te Atiawa iwi based at Waikawa Marae reversed its opposition to the King Salmon application to the Environmental Protection Authority to establish nine new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, after reaching a commercially sensitive agreement with the company. The Waikawa Marae Trust remains opposed, especially to four sites in and near Tory Channel.

Te Atiawa Trust chairwoman Glenice Paine said a lot was said at the hearing about how passionate people opposing the application felt. However, five out of 10 trustees were born and bred in Waikawa, knew their customary food-gathering areas and participated in customary practices.

Underpinning the board's support for King Salmon were conditions which ensured that as kaitiaki (caretakers), Te Atiawa would know immediately if things went awry, Mrs Paine said.

Te Atiawa lawyer Kathy Ertel said many meetings had been held at the marae so the iwi voice could be heard.

Proposed farms should cause less damage than fast ferries of the past, commercial fish-catching, development including the marina at Waikawa and the freezing works and deep water port at Shakespeare Bay, Ms Ertel said.

Tina Looms asked the authority board of inquiry which is considering whether King Salmon can build its farms, to ensure they heard the voice of Te Atiawa who had been ignored and misrepresented.

"I don't deny the creation of financial wealth has a place but I reel in despair at the cost to Te Atiawa," Mrs Looms said.

Buna Riwaka doubted the ability of King Salmon to contain fish waste, paints and anti-fouling at existing farms let alone those applied for.

His tupuna (ancestors) would expect him to make a stand for the protection of fisheries guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi, Mr Riwaka said.

Paia Riwaka-Herbert said King Salmon owned several farms in the Sounds and made good profits from them. To apply for more space was an act of insatiable greed.

Antony Bunt, who spent 17 years as chairman of Te Atiawa's Totaranui fishing committee, found it ironic to be opposing aquaculture development.

However, Tory Channel was prime space for aquaculture and if Te Atiawa could not get the same quality of real estate it did not want to be fobbed off with a cheque, Mr Bunt said.

With grandson Max at his side, Harry Love said Te Atiawa took their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of the Sounds seriously.

In 2011 Mr Love helped dive for 48 sacks of kina for the tangi of former governor- general Sir Paul Reeves. Sharing kai like this gave the iwi pleasure and pride and he wanted his grandson to have the same opportunity, he said. "It's a pity too many of our people are getting involved in the corporate world because it is corrupting our values," he said.

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Alan Riwaka said it was hard for him to talk about traditional food-gathering areas in a public setting like the hearing. However, this was necessary because in the past such areas had been destroyed for developments.

The hearing of the King Salmon application continues at the marae today and tomorrow, after running for almost six weeks in Blenheim.

- The Marlborough Express

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