Bequest must be used at reserve

A hapu controlling Turuturu Mokai has unearthed thousands of dollars earmarked for the reserve 18 months after beginning a site clean-up campaign.

But Ngati Tupaia hapu secretary Aroha Houston does not want to see the cash used to fund the Reserve's mounting mop-up costs. She was surprised to find out the South Taranaki District Council was gifted more than $19,000 in 1963 for use in connection with Turuturu Mokai.

Over the years, STDC communications manager Gerard Langford said the money had built up and there is now more than $80,000.

Turuturu Mokai voluntary project manager Milton Whareaitu last month found close-to an acre's worth of syringes, bottles, hospital and electrical equipment and potentially asbestos-riddled trash onsite, prompting a Taranaki Regional Council investigation.

He is calling for the STDC's help cleaning up the dumpsite but doesn't want to see the bequest money used.

"(I'm) unsure why the bequest has taken so long to come to the front, 50 years is a long time," he said.

"It will take at least the next 10 years to repair the erosion and damage caused by human laziness and neglect."

Mr Whareaitu and Ms Houston were in agreement about the use of the newly-discovered cash reserve. Ms Houston said while Ngati Tupaia had no money to fund the clean-up of the site, including the historic tip, that wasn't the purpose of the bequest.

Samuel Gale Larcom died on December 7, 1963 and gave one-fourth of his estate to the Hawera Borough Council for use at the Reserve.

STDC communications manager Gerard Langford said that in the early 2000s council agreed to an Office of Treaty Settlements request to landbank the reserve.

"The property was subsequently handed back to local iwi as part of a treaty settlement," he said.

Formal allocation of the funds has never been considered.

STDC group manager of corporate services Phillippa Wilson said that was because the Reserve was maintained using general rates.

"Back then the bequest could only be used for capital expenditure not operational and could not be transferred to other parties," she said.

"However the Local Government Act has since changed which allows for a bit more flexibility in how council can use the bequest."

She said the bequest could only be used at Turuturu Mokai but councillors could decide how.

South Taranaki District Mayor Ross Dunlop said a formal agreement between Ngati Tupaia and the council needed to be reached before any help could be extended.

All parties are awaiting a TRC report to decide what will be done with the material found onsite.

Taranaki Daily News