Proposed cell tower on Hokianga maunga concerns hapū

breaking By Regan Paranihi

Concerns raised at Ihumātao are echoed in a call from hapū in the Hokianga where there are plans to build a cell tower on the ancestral mountain, Whakarongorua.

The local hapū met this morning to place a rāhui on the maunga while they develop a pathway forward. 

Descendants of Whakarongorua gathered at their marae with the intention to protect and maintain its mauri.

Mori Rapana (Ngāpuhi) says, "We are here to prevent any desecration of our ancestral mountain, Whakarongorua. This is our tūrangawaewae, right here, right now."

Moana Tuwhare says the problem is not the tower itself, it's more the proposed location for it.

"We're not opposed to there being connectivity and wifi in the valley, absolutely there's support for that but just not on top of our maunga."

Rural Connectivity group say they have been in discussions with local iwi and community since October 2018. They wanted the hapū to be part of the whole process, and in their proposal, they added a Cultural Impact Assesment to record the history of the area.

However, Tuwhare says the whole hapū didn't agree to the development.

"There's certainly been no consensus and no clear hapū decision on the issue. We're quite concerned that the construction of the cell phone tower is going ahead despite the fact that the hapū have not agreed to it going ahead."

Despite the efforts of a minority to work with RCG, the wider hapū are calling on the local council to put a stop to it.

"We want the Crown and the council to stop this construction," says Rapana.

He also says he is willing to do whatever it takes to maintain the mountain's mauri.

"To fight for our mountain, to protect it for future generations because Whakarongorua is one of the main sacred mountains of Ngāpuhi."

RCG have ceased work on the site until the hapū address the matter internally.