Regional | Northland

Whangārei iwi threaten occupation if housing development goes ahead

Ngāti Kahu o Torongare in Whangārei is opposing a housing project on a wāhi tapu and says that if the resource consent is upheld, the iwi will occupy the whenua. The proposal is to build a 93-house development on Ōnoke Hill, a well-known site in Kamo.

Local iwi have met Whangārei District Council staff to show their opposition to the proposed development.

The 6.8ha proposed Ōnoke Heights development would run along Dip Road in Kamo, Whangārei. Developers have long been interested in the land, and since the 1980s, several of them have sought resource consent to build on the site. Nevertheless, the Environment Court has consistently upheld the concerns of the local Whangārei iwi.

The application is by Onoke Heights Ltd, a development vehicle owned by a building company run out of Huntly in Waikato. Te Ao News, at this time, is unable to contact the owners of Onoke Heights Ltd.

Ōnoke Hill is a significant area for all iwi in Whangārei but especially for Ngāti Kahu o Torongare. It’s an ancient pā site and sits directly next to Hurupaki Mountain.

Iwi spokesperson Nicki Wakefield says they only heard about the current development from another iwi in Whangārei.

Hui concluded ‘unsuitable’

“The first we heard about this proposed development was a year and a half ago and our whanaunga hapu of Te Parawhau, who had a relationship with the developer, was approached to give a view on whether the development should go ahead.”

“At that time, they said they needed to do a cultural impact assessment because it’s a big development and we mihi to our whanaunga because that led to two hui, where there was a united view that the area is not suitable for housing.”

Ngāti Kahu o Torongare is also worried about six native trees found on the site, over a hundred years old. Developers have said they would replant 250 trees for every tree cut down.

Lisa Davies from Ngāti Kahu o Torongare says it’s a big kāhore from the iwi.

“It’s a kahore for all of us. This will not benefit us at all. The 93 homes that are proposed will be for everyone else, except our hapu.”

“Cutting down a hundred-plus-year-old trees, once again, is abhorrent to us as the whānau, the hapu of Ngāti Kahu o Torongare.”

Ngāti Kahu o Torongare will await a decision from a council-appointed commissioner before deciding the next step.

The council says it is unable to comment until it has seen the commissioner’s decision.