National | Dame Naida Glavish

Dame Naida Glavish willing to put her body on the line to save sacred site

The stoush between Ngāti Whatua leaders over the government's proposed national Erebus memorial in Auckland is intensifying.

Dame Naida Glavish has doubled down on her opposition to the memorial being placed in the Parnell park and forrmer pa site. She penned a letter to the Prime Minister outlining her concerns about the memorial. She is unimpressed by the response from her office.

E ko tāna, Oh Kahore! Ko te haere tonu tera kaupapa. I waea atu au kia koe te whakamohio atu kia koe anei te take i waea atu au kia koe. Heoi ano ko tāku he moumou taima noa iho.

“The Ministry of Culture and heritage called to say the project is still going ahead. They called me to let me know this was the reason for the call. My reply was what a waste of time,” she said.

Glavish is adamant she is merely protecting the land and will not be moved. She is angered at comments made by arborists who she says will be working on the site.

He rākau tena, e hia rā tōna tūnga ki kona. Ka tae atu koe ki te tapahi tetahi o ona waewae. Hena koa, whakatiti ake he nēra ki to matimati, ki tō waewae kia kite ai pehea te mamae ka tae ki to mātenga, kuare!

“A tree that's been standing there throughout the years, and they want to chop one of its branches? I said, put a nail in your finger or your leg to see how painful that will be. Ignorant!” she said.

'Extensive engagement'

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is confident about the due process by the government to choose this piece of land as the place for the memorial.

“One of the points I made directly to Dame Naida was that our engagement with Ngāti Whatua Orakei has been extensive, dating back to the very beginning of this process. And you will see Ngāti Whātua themselves have come out and said 'yes, we have been engaged'.”

Horekau wāku whakahē i a rātou. Heoi anō tāku e whakahē ana ko te kaupapa i whakahaerengia. Kihai i puta te hohonu o ngā kōrero pono me ngā  kōrero tika mai i te timatanga.

“I'm not disagreeing with them (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei). What I do disagree with is the process that was undertaken. The depth of knowledge wasn't explored or correct from the beginning,” Glavish said.

Despite the concerns, it's still full steam ahead.

“We'd been scheduled to start, with health and safety assessments in that first part of lockdown, but it's not too far away,” Ardern said.

Asked if she was prepared to lay her body in front of machinery when the works began Dame Naida Glavish confidently agreed that she would.