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Whakatāne wāhi tapu threatened by development

Trustees of a Māori burial site in Whakatāne are disappointed that resource consent into the development of land that borders theirs has been granted.  Opihi Whanaunga Kore Chairman Ropata Kopae says they are now faced with negotiating how far the residential and retirement sub-division will be from the burial site.

In March this year, Principal Judge L.J. Newhook of the Environment Court rejected the claims of trustees who wanted the whole of the Piripai block to be set aside as a burial site or ‘wāhi tapu’.

The land in question was purchased by the Whakatāne District Council in the 1970’s.  Whakatāne mayor Tony Bonne says that the council has wanted to develop the site for a long time.

“This is an opportunity to build a retirement village in our district.  We currently don’t have one.  We also hope to work closely with the trustees of Opihi.”

Mr Kopae says that they will be negotiating a 100-metre buffer to separate the residential and retirement division from the burial ground.