Wharekahika locals against new port development

By Talisa Kupenga

Locals who petitioned against a port development in Hicks Bay have been reassured by Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou (TRONPNui) that they will get to decide what happens in their backyard.

More than 150 locals met at Hinemaurea Marae during the weekend where TRONPNnui received a near 4,000 signature petition against the project.

Louina Houkamou says, "We don't want a port in Hicks Bay, I don't want a port here in Hicks Bay.  Why would I want to destroy this beautiful pristine piece of land which we've got which is very rare in New Zealand."

Vania Subritzky says, "It's too much of a risk environmentally.  It's our kapata kai, it's the way we feed our families, our manuhiri."

TRONPNui Chairman Selwyn Parata says, "I have head the opposition.  Some locals agree, some disagree but we are still looking at options."

TRONPNui presented the Crown with the initiative earlier this year as an alternative transport option for logs on the East Cape.

A land block owner says a port could cut log transport costs up to 40 percent.

Wharekahika representative Ani Pahuru Huriwai says, "No doubt pine and forestry provides jobs for our relations but in Wharekahika our focus is on the mānuka and honey industries which, right now, are bringing opportunities to us at Matakaoa."

TRONPNui's Ngati Porou Holding Company has conducted a pre-feasibility study but wants a joint full-feasibility report with Eastland Port and land development company Terrafermah Ltd.

Pahuru-Huriwai says, "We don't like [Terrafermah] at all, neither does the Rūnanganui but it is business and we want to work together- well, not want- but because Terrafermah have the lease [on the land] we are in this position."

The Rūnanganui was accused of a lack of transparency, having held only two meetings in 18 months, including the one held at the weekend, since the process started two years ago.

It has now committed to monthly meetings and workshops to ensure process is inclusive of the community.