Mill closure: “Don't just up and go leaving our land in a state.”

By Herewini Waikato

Iwi are raising more concerns over the closure of the Kawerau mill.

Besides the loss of 160 jobs, there’s worry about the hazardous waste that may be left behind.

Tipene Marr of Ngāti Rangitihi was a vocal critic of the mill’s wastewater discharged into his ancestral river of Tarawera.

He also claims chlorine-contaminated sludge was buried in surrounding lands.

“We are worried about the actual clean-up of the site. Those sites are 66 years old and a lot of pollution is in there.”

He wants Norske Skog Tasman to ensure they leave the environment in a better state than the day the company arrived.  

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Moana confirmed Norske Skog Tasman has no specific ‘clean up’ clause as part of those obligations but there are conditions to help sustainably manage potential environmental effects.

But kaumātua and former mill worker, Kahu Te Rire says Norse Skog Tasman should remove all hazardous waste.

“They need to come and explain their plans about leaving and tidying up. Don't just up and go leaving our land in a state,” he demanded.

Norske Skog Tasman told Te Ao Mārama that it has met all environmental consent obligations under its permits from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and is currently not in breach of those consent obligations.

This article has been edited to correct details of a statement provided to Te Ao Māori News.