Sewage spills lead to rāhui for Porirua Harbour

By Te Ao - Māori News

Two sewage spills into the Porirua harbour have resulted in Ngāti Toa Rangatira placing a two-week rāhui in an effort to ensure the health and wellbeing of the community.

Te Rūnanga o Toa rangatira CEO Helmut Modlik says the iwi is disappointed that the two incidents occurred in the Porirua Harbour as a result of long-term failure to invest in water infrastructure in the Porirua region.

“Our local infrastructure is clearly aged, overburdened and unable to meet current demands, let alone the future growth in our rohe,” Modlik said.

“Urgent investment must be made now to ensure the community’s wellbeing. Ngāti Toa has urged our partners at the Porirua City Council and Wellington Water to act with haste and at scale .”

How it happened

Over the July 17-18 weekend, stormwater pipes in the Porirua region came under pressure from significant rainfall, causing a rising main (sewerage) pipe near SH1 in Paremata to burst.

Wellington Water reinstated the decommissioned cross-harbour rising main to address the issue. However, the main also failed and spilled sewage directly into Te Awarua o Porirua at another location in Onepoto.

“Laying a rāhui means putting a total ban on a resource. This means that swimming, fishing, diving, taking shellfish, boating or any other ‘on-or-in-sea’ activity within the harbour is prohibited,” Modlik said.

“Caring for our moana is not just a job to us, it's our responsibility as kaitiaki for our future generations. We call on the entire community to commit to our rāhui to not only protect the health and wellbeing of our community but also to give our moana some reprieve and an opportunity to heal itself.”

The rāhui covers the whole of Te Awarua o Porirua (Porirua Harbour), extending out to the reef and the coastline from Rewarewa to Boom Rock.

It is scheduled to be lifted on August 7 but is dependent on improvements in the health of the moana.