National | Dargaville

Marae threatened by proposed chicken farm - locals

A spokeswoman on behalf of Kāpehu Marae in the Kaipara says that the closure of the marae is a real prospect if a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art chicken breeding facility gets the green light, on nearby farmland at Arapōhue, 12 kilometres south of Dargaville.

Local resident Kereama Rangitaawa (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniapoto) says that the process followed by Tegel has been flawed.

"If they thought it out proper enough, I think it may relate to the people - but by the sounds of things they only want it to work for themselves" says Mr. Rangitaawa.

Tegel Foods is seeking resource consents to raise nine million chickens a year next door to the marae.

Marae trustees say their tikanga and self sovereignty will suffer the ultimate price.

"Our fear is that we might have to close our marae because we wouldn't be able to operate" says marae spokesperson, Betty Stein.

The proposed Tegel site would see 32 new state-of-the-art chicken facilities built in close proximity to Kāpehu Marae, each at 100 metres in length.  An expected 1.3 million chickens will be reared there seasonally, with 40 tonnes of chicken excrement to be burned on site daily.

"Our old road used to come from where the chicken farms are going to be, to bring our tūpāpaku up from Naumai- they used to bring them up on tractors.  That road will be cut off now," says Stein.

In recent weeks, the Northland Regional Council has received a total of seventeen submissions in regard to the proposed building of the poultry farm - sixteen of them oppose Tegel's plans.

Kaipara mayor, Dr. Jason Smith greeted protesters today who converged upon the Dargaville offices of the Northland Regional Council and said that "this is a very serious demonstration because these are the people of Kaipara and they are very interested and engaged in this process.  It's very important."

Tegel have recently released a statement to Te Kāea saying that "the resource consent process will give any interested parties the oppourtunity to make submissions," and they are "committed to working with local community."

Local kuia, Katie Tito (Te Uri o Hau, Te Parawhau) says, "it's very sad. That's why we are all here. We want to support our marae."

Submissions to the Northland Regional Council close next Wednesday.