National | Kerikeri

Northland hāpu occupy Kerikeri Inlet

Whānau of Te Uri Taniwha hapū, up in arms over plans which threaten to damage archaeological and Māori cultural sites, are occupying Kerikeri Inlet in Northland to prevent further development.

Te Uri Taniwha hapū and Kerikeri locals say they are worried about the future of the cultural sites.

This follows Far North District Council's grant of consent to Far North Holdings to extend a boat ramp, build a coastal road and create parking facilities at Windsor Landing.

As a result, the hapū have begun occupying the area to stop further development.

"In the year 2000-1999 a developer came in here with a digger and a bulldozer, and in 6 months he rearranged our deep and extensive middens right through this zone, pushed all our midden up to here, moved our tupuna rock walls to create his own landscaping ideas," Te Uri Taniwha descendant Ian Mitchell says.

More than 20 years later, he says another example has come to light in Kerikeri.

"10 years later the resource consent came up for renewal, he [the developer] chose not to renew it. Far North Holdings stepped in and renewed it and became the owner of the jetty."

Te Uri Taniwha's Esther Horton has been against the development from the outset.

"I've been fighting this resource consent, you know what the council is trying to do. In 2005, when they first wanted to put a road through it and fill in this fish trap here and make it into a carpark," she says.

Yesterday, members of the local community began occupying the inlet. The hapū say they were surprised by the unified response, with Māori and Pākēha all on board.

"I was a bit sceptical; I thought, I wonder if they're for or against us? I knew some of them were for because they were my neighbours but the rest I really didn't know," Horton says.

One community member Te Ao spoke to said, "It breaks my heart that so many of our ancient sites like this are being desecrated by development."

"We talk about the fact that Māori have been walking through Pākēha doors for 100 to 200 years. Not a lot of Pākēha have come back through the Māori door, and it just happened today," Mitchell says.

The hāpu remain hopeful that the Far North District Council and Far North Holding will hold off on their plans for the sake of the archaeological and Māori cultural site.

Te Ao reached out to The Far North District Council, however, they were unable to provide comment today.