Dumping sewage on a Patea farm has landed the South Taranaki District Council in hot water because it didn't inform local iwi.
In a letter to the council, Te Runanga o Ngaati Ruanui Trust said it was "deeply disappointing" it was not informed about a discharge resource consent application for disposing bio-solids on the Albany St property.
However, at the iwi liaison meeting held yesterday, the council said it was not its legal place to make notification because it was not the consenting authority.
The iwi objects to the offensiveness of disposing waste on to the land, which is in the coastal protection area, and Ngaati Ruanui's trust chairman Ngapari Nui said the iwi's views were not being taken notice of by council.
Instead, in August they learned about the application from Taranaki Regional Council and soon found the district council's independent consultants - CH2M Beca - to be "close-minded" to cultural impacts.
"The council decided to go get a consultant who has no connection to here or there," Mr Nui said.
Te Runanga O Ngati Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer described it as a return to the 1970s and 1980s relationship between the council and Maori.
"It's fair to say we were quite stunned. TRC had to bring this matter to our attention, rather than STDC, who we meet with every six weeks. Deeply disappointing."
STDC chief executive Craig Stevenson said if the council was to start the process again, it would have been different to the beginnings two years before. However, the STDC was the applicant in this case and not the consenting authority, which was the TRC, he said.
CH2M Beca was hired to be transparent and avoid any conflict of interest, keeping the matter at "arms length", Mr Stevenson said.
Mayor Ross Dunlop said there needed to be a solution to Patea's waste-disposal issues and while this process was "a little backward", it still needed to be done.
Te Kahui O Rauru chairman Darryn Ratana said that wasn't good enough because council knew how offensive dumping waste on the land was to Maori, and STDC should have involved them.
The Ngaati Ruanui letter was too late to be included in the meeting's minutes so the matter will be discussed further.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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