Uawa community moving forward

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The community of Tolaga Bay on the East Coast are welcoming a decision by iwi, community groups and forestry groups to trial burning-off the forestry slash that remains at the beach and river mouth.

Chairman of the tribal authority Ūawanui, Victor Walker (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti) says, “We've started to take our children to the beach, to dive for seafood, but this situation makes it difficult.”

The GDC are conducting an investigation into the causes behind the amount of slash and have issued abatement notices to forestry companies in the area.

Victor Walker says, “There needs to be a shift in the mindset of the pine companies and the council, to do the right thing so that the slash isn't brought down here by the rain.”

Severe weather in June brought heavy rain and flooding, carrying with it this slash from forestry in steep terrain. For 5 months now the beach has been covered and the people are fed up, they're ready to move on.

Dolly Mitchell (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti) ki Uawa owns a grocery store, “This is paradise, of course it is, give us back our paradise back.”

Local conservationist Mere Tamanui (Ngāti Porou) says, “I can't say that I totally agree with the burning I think there are multiple methods that could be taken, however with these disasters reoccurring again I think we've made a great start as a community into investigating how we can mitigate these events.

The beach is a major drawcard for families and tourists, and locals are hoping to have the debris cleared before Christmas

Victor Walker says, “You can see it's completely covered, this beautiful area. Thousands of people come and stay here at the motor camp as well as our relatives.”

The outcome of GDC investigation will be released in December while the slash burn-off begins this coming Tuesday.