Hapu plan to plough as protest

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2014

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A peaceful protest by a group of Waitara hapu has attracted the attention of the New Plymouth District Council.

A letter written by council parks manager Mark Bruhn was sent to representatives of the Otaraua, Ngati Tawhirikura and Manukorihi hapu three weeks ago which requested a meeting with the groups to discuss use of land at a site on McLean St and a section near Clifton Park.

The two sites have been used by the hapu to stage a protest against Te Atiawa's $87 million settlement which was signed off in early August.

The method of ploughing being used is similar to the one practised by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, who led the Parihaka movement of non-violent resistance during the late 1880s.

Otaraua spokeswoman Donna Eriwata said hapu had since met with Bruhn, who initially thought the group were trying to establish community gardens. In the letter, Bruhn raised concerns about the potential risk posed to people if they were to eat vegetables grown particularly at the Clifton Park site, which is considered to be contaminated.

Eriwata said hapu had no plans to stop working at the sites, which the council initially requested, and a ploughing session was planned for this Saturday.

Bruhn said he was aware of the continued activity.

"We are discussing this with the hapu with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable outcome," he said.

Eriwata said along with the attention from the council, they had also received a lot of positive support from the public. "I believe it is getting us traction, it's allowing people to ask what we are doing and it provides us with an opportunity to get our points across too."

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