Planned action against local government support to sell water

By Dean Nathan

The partial blocking of the Waipao stream at Poroti yesterday was followed up today with a march in the streets of Whangarei. It's a planned action by members of the community in protest at moves by the local government to allow the building of a water bottling plant to sell their resource overseas.

Hona Edwards told Te Kāea, "We've had strong communications with the Whangarei District Council but they have rejected the plan we presented to them on how we could share this resource. They support private companies who want to sell the resource overseas, and to us, they're flagrantly trampling on our rights." 

Over 300 individuals took part in the march through the centre of Whangarei to share their message with the world.  

Milan Ruka of the Environmental River Patrol handed over submissions at the District Council reception along with over 1200 objections from across New Zealand, Japan, America and Great Britain.  

Tribal leader Taipari Munroe says, "It's an issue for the whole country because water is of utmost importance. It doesn't only affect the Poroti community although the Poroti Springs is seen as a key example in the eyes of this nation.   Perhaps Māori are somewhat sick of it but we must continue to lobby this issue and not let it lie or sleep. Hence I'm heartened by the great turnout today."

Addressing a multicultural multi-political crowd in the Whangarei mall, Poroti elder Lorraine Norris said, "The hapū having the proprietary rights to say, this is our taonga, we are the decision makers for what happens to it!," to which she received massive applause. 

Only yesterday, the community of Poroti explored creating a retention on the Waipao stream for their own water supply with the parents of some of those marching today having led a hikoi in Whangarei 30 years ago to protest against farmers taking water from the Mangakahia and Te Wairua rivers.

Hona Edwards says, "The heart bleeds but our work continues.  It is important that council and local government get our message, not to support those interests wanting to sell the water overseas.  This resource should be managed by the community and local hapū.”

We await a statement or comment from the Whangarei District Council on this matter.