Maun­gatau­tari dis­pute con­tin­ues

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

The stand­off be­tween trustees and landown­ers over the Maun­gatau­tari sanc­tu­ary con­tin­ued at a meet­ing last Thurs­day where a landowner de­scribed the feel­ing of an­other landowner as ‘‘hos­tile’’.

The re­serve plan is in jeop­ardy af­ter a group of landown­ers op­posed to a pro­posed Treaty of Wai­tangi set­tle­ment hand­ing the moun­tain back to iwi and its in­volve­ment in gov­er­nance, locked their gates on staff and vol­un­teers.

More than 50 peo­ple crammed into the Maun­gatau­tari Eco­log­i­cal Is­land Trust meet­ing at the Waipa District Coun­cil of­fices where sanc- tu­ary vol­un­teers and one landown­ing trustee pleaded with both sides to sort out the dis­pute which could put the project and ul­ti­mately, wildlife in jeop­ardy.

Ngati Koroki Kahukura rep­re­sen­ta­tive trustee Tao Tau­roa of­fered to dis­cuss the treaty is­sue with landown­ers in the hope of al­le­vi­at­ing con­cerns.

Landown­ers’ spokesman Peter Holmes said the group would likely take up that of­fer.

‘‘ The landown­ers have been very strong sup­port­ers of the project from the out­set,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve tried to get some sense into the trust and been com­pletely frus­trated by [ trust chair­man] Doug Ar­cus, who is not in­ter­ested in lis­ten­ing to any­body.’’

But Mr Ar­cus told the meet­ing he was happy to meet any­one at any­time and that given the size of the Maun­gatau­tari or­gan­i­sa­tion it was ‘‘ in­evitable’’ not ev­ery­one would be happy with all de­ci­sions.

‘‘This is a large com­plex or­gan­i­sa­tion and we went through a very thor­ough process over four months where all con­cerns were on the ta­ble in­clud­ing theirs [the landown­ers] – in the end the ba­sis for gov­er­nance was a ne­go­ti­ated and demo­cratic de­ci­sion,’’ he said.

Mr Holmes said landown­ers still had no le­gal pro­tec­tion through le­gal ease­ments or ac­cess agree­ments and though they were not op­posed to iwi be­ing rep­re­sented on the trust board they were op­posed to mana whenua hav­ing such strong rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the group at the ex­pense of the com­mu­nity and landown­ers.

‘‘All we want is equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion,’’ Mr Holmes said.

He said the rifts were too deep to be re­solved with­out ex­ter­nal in­de­pen­dent me­di­a­tion.

‘‘Maybe it should be made a na­tional park,’’ he said. ‘‘We need Welling­ton to sort this out. We’re prob­a­bly at that point be­cause we have no faith in Doug Ar­cus.’’

Mr Ar­cus said the trust was now mov­ing into a con­tin­gency phase. ‘‘If any­thing hap­pens along the fence­line we will deal with it as best we can. Our pri­mary ob­jec­tive is to keep the in­tegrity of the fence,’’ he said.

The row prompted the res­ig­na­tion of project founder David Wal­lace which was ac­cepted at last night’s meet­ing. Trustee Gor­don Stephen­son called Mr Wal­lace’s res­ig­na­tion the end of an era. ‘‘His vi­sion has in­spired all of us and will keep us go­ing for decades yet,’’ he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.