Fresh water main focus of Hīkoi

By Heta Gardiner

Fresh water is the main focus for a group making the trek from Tūrangi to Wellington, to take a petition to Parliament. For more on this lets cross live to Heta Gardiner who is standing by in Wellington.

It must be said one has to definitely have their walking shoes if they wish to join this hīkoi. At its centre is a very serious issue, the hīkoi is pushing the government to increase the minimum requirements for fresh water.

There was a unique flavour to this particular protest group, featuring a demographic not usually seen at these events.

It's a cause with a key message, that's now traversed more than 300kms to get here.

Tawera Tahuri asked, “What about the water for my grandchild? Will he have the opportunity to enjoy, bathe and swim, and drink in the water of his ancestors in a few years? Because at this rate, no!

This is the continuation of a hīkoi that began in Tūrangi. And at its core are supporters of a petition calling for the government to increase freshwater standards. 

These people have united with "Choose Clean Water" a group that has gathered nearly 9000 signatures for the cause.

One of the elements of this hīkoi is to fill calabash like this from water from around the country, and presenting that life force to parliament.

This particular cohort is full of youths.

“They are not the leaders of the future, they are our leaders now,” says Tahuri.

These are the students of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whakarewa i te reo ki Tūwharetoa. The school decided to join in, as a teaching exercise for the children.

Ruby Pitiroi says, “During this hīkoi, the students have begun to understand the depth of this issue, and they are now leading this march. We are merely bystanders supporting them."

"Our rangatahi today are well informed, they're well researched. They are better prepared than we were at that age, and therefore they are more environmentally aware,” says Tahuri

The Hīkoi concludes in Wellington tomorrow, where the petition will be taken to Parliament in the afternoon and it will be presented to Marama Davidson and Catherine Delahunty of the Green Party.