East Coast hapū claim Forestry NES may breach Treaty

Slash catchers in an East Coast stream could be removed under the proposed NES. Source: Gisborne District Council

Slash catchers in an East Coast stream could be removed under the proposed NES. Source: Gisborne District Council

Hapū groups with kaiteki responsibilities under the RMA covering more than 60,000 hectares of land on the East Coast are joining Gisborne District Council in opposing proposed changes to national rules for plantation forestry, and suggesting Treaty of Waitangi breaches could result if the proposed National Environmental Standard (NES) is adopted by the government.

Hikurangi Takiwa Trust representing a collective of hapū covering 30,000 hectares south of Ruatoria and Te Papatipu o Uepohatu Trust hapū representing hapū in the Ruatoria area voted earlier in the month to oppose the NES for Plantation Forestry.

“We are very pleased to see Gisborne District Council joining hapu in opposition to these proposed changes” said Uepohatu spokesperson Tui Warmenhoven. “We have been studying the effects of forestry on the Waiapu catchment for decades and the  rules as they stand are not doing enough, the NES proposes to relax those regulations even further.”

Large areas within the hapu estate are currently in plantation forestry and representatives from affected hapu participated in consultation hui held in Ruatoria and Gisborne earlier in the year. While a number of concerns related to the proposed NES were expressed to government officials, the hapu claim these concerns have not been addressed in the Draft NES that closed for submissions today.

Silt rising over five metres in a tributary to the Waiapu River, 2015

Silt rising over five metres in a tributary to the Waiapu River, 2015

“We are advising the Crown that should the NES progress and these issues not be addressed, we reserve the right to seek remedy and protect ecological taonga (treasures) and wahi tapu (culturally significant sites) through the range of legal instruments available to us as Treaty of Waitangi partners with the Crown.”

The hapu believe the proposed changes will be devastating for the district – both in terms of the life of waterways and soil conservation.

“In addition to sharing many of the concerns that Gisborne District Council submission highlights, we are also keen to ensure the right for communities to prohibit Genetically Modified Organisms in the environment is preserved. The NES proposes to remove this right and hand it over to the EPA, an organisation now run by a GE proponent.”

The hapu have made their full submissions available here.

– – –

Contacts:

Tui Warmenhoven, Chair, Te Papatipu o Uepohatu Trust – Tel. 021 413508 – Email: tuiaroha@gmail.com

Pia PohatuTrustee, Hikurangi Takiwa Trust – Email: pia@uritukuiho.org.nz

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