Old dump cleanup payment pondered

PETRA FINER
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014
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Should the South Taranaki District Council pay to clean up the dump at Turuturu Mokai?

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Caretakers of Hawera's Turuturu Mokai pa site have been left wondering who will pay to clean up the old dump found on the site.

A Taranaki Regional Council investigation into the large dumpsite, found by volunteers working to clean up the site, is continuing. But questions over who will foot the cleanup bill are still unanswered.

A South Taranaki District Council-funded cleanup is not off the table.

Mayor Ross Dunlop said a formal agreement between Ngati Tupaia, a hapu of Ngati Ruanui with control of the land, and the council needed to be reached before any help could be extended.

Ngati Tupaia hapu secretary Aroha Houston said that the hapu had no money for the cleanup of the half-hectare dump.

The dump contained items such as syringes, bottles, hospital and electrical equipment and trash that may contain asbestos.

Ms Houston hoped the community would band together to help with the cleanup.

"The law is, if it's on your property, you've bought it or inherited it or whatever, you're responsible," she said.

"The biggest thing is actually going to be to do it and to find the funding to do it."

She said hapu weren't interested in name-blaming or finding who was responsible because it wouldn't get the mess cleaned up. "It's not good when you discover tonnes of it on your doorstep and we've inherited that."

Ngati Tupaia do not have the finances to fund a large-scale cleanup.

The Taranaki Daily News understands a memorandum of understanding has been tabled between the two parties but that not all agree with the terms.

Ms Houston said it wouldn't be fair to comment on any potential agreements with the council but that discussions were taking place. Mr Dunlop said the council couldn't just step in and begin a clean-up campaign.

"Because of its private ownership we need an understanding between the council and hapu on who's responsible for what," he said."If there is a need to do something with that rubbish that could be part of the discussion."

Mr Dunlop has visited the site recently and said he was eager to see it restored.

"Turuturu Mokai is a very significant place in South Taranaki and I would like to see the council and Ngati Tupaia working together to enhance it and look after it for the future," he said.

The primary need was to find out what the materials onsite were and then Mr Dunlop said a plan for the clean-up could be created.

The TRC is investigating the toxicity of the waste.

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