17 June 2019
Hapu to confer with council on river gravel – Chair condemns rogue tactics
“We are concerned and dismayed by the allegations that sabotage of contractors’ equipment may have occurred in connection with the gravel question in the Opotiki twin rivers” said Ngai Tamahaua Hapu Chair Peter T Selwyn today responding to yesterday’s Sunday Star-Times front page article on Opotiki river gravel royalties and allegations of threats being investigated by NZ Police.
Mr Selwyn said: “Our Hapu have Mana whenua in the area concerned and exercise kaitiakitanga over the Otara river (Te Awa O Tarawa) – in conjunction with other Hapu – and our collective interests are jeopardised by allegations of rogue standovers on the Waioweka river (Te Awa o Tamatea) that threaten gravel operations and other activities on the Otara. We are seeking more information from police and council. We alerted authorities earlier this year to a problem, but we took preventive legal action to suppress that possibility on the Otara.
“We have actually opposed and limited consent allocations and commercial takes of river shingle generally from the Otara because there was no legitimate environmental or safety reason for the removal and the data was questionable. Potential royalty payments have been foregone by the Hapu to protect the integrity of the river – revenue has not been the prevailing factor for Ngai Tamahaua.”
Hapu relations with Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) are in a sensitive phase leading up to a planned conference together over the future management of the rivers and the controversial new gravel consent the Council is seeking.
The BOPRC resource consents for gravel extraction in the two rivers expired in April and their bid for a fresh consent for 15 years on the same basis as before is stalled with Hapu opposition lodged and a challenge to the submission process.
“We don’t want these alleged rogue standover tactics of individuals in one valley to distract from our constructive engagement and progress we have made over the last two years with council,” said Mr Selwyn, “we want to keep council to their stated policies and encourage them to lift their consultation practice and compliance response.”