Respect owed not shown says board member
The Ventnor memorial planned for the Rawene cemetery has been handled badly by the Far North District Council, according to Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board member Shaun Reilly, who believes that, as a result, the respect owed to the local people and the descendants of the Chinese miners is not being shown.
Te Rarawa and Te Roroa had been “utterly respectful” in burying the remains washed up on the west coast in 1902 in their own urupa, with their own people. Perhaps the matter would have been better left there,” he said.
Meanwhile the community board had approved the New Zealand Chinese Association’s proposal for a large memorial, that it was prepared to fund, at the cemetery, subject to an exception being obtained under Section K Schedule 1 of the Building Act.
“This was an error. That bylaw was defunct. Unseemly haste and careless planning is not a good foundation for this or any other project,” Mr Reilly said.
“This board, and even the FNDC itself, has no right to agree to anything for the Rawene cemetery. It belongs to the people of the Hokianga.”
Conditions also included consultation with Rawene, and with hapu and iwi, which did not take place “in any real sense”. The NZCA, pushed by the council and the board, understood it could build the 30-metre memorial with two-metre footings without consent by calling it an artwork. Work began, unsupervised by this council, exposing and breaking coffins, the council CEO “disingenuously” blaming Cyclone Gita when Mr Reilly blamed negligent site preparation and workmanship.
The first site had failed, with damage done, and without sufficient community consultation, a second site was now being approved.
“The first site needs to be put to rest, and issues and concerns with the second site, and indeed the memorial itself, need to be considered,” Mr Reilly added.
“Notwithstanding the attractive videos and sales hype promoted by the NZCA, it should have nothing to do with these processes beyond the plans they have provided. The idea of a memorial to historical events is fine, but the promotional value to the association and its wider interests should not be driving the planning processes. Nor should it be driving the FNDC.
“At the very least, if the memorial is to proceed at all we require a map showing proximity of graves and other purchased plots to the proposed site.
“We need comprehensive engineers and geo-tech reports regarding the stability of the land. We need to know how the FNDC will rectify the continual water flow through the cemetery. Any memorial site needs to be further away from graves in a position agreed by the Rawene and wider Hokianga community.
“It is one thing for the NZCA to put up the cash for the memorial, but we need to know how the associated work will be funded — from general rates or an increase in Rawene residents’ rates?
“There must be appropriate consents, and site work inspections, should it proceed.
“We need to consider the condition of the present road and parking, which is inadequate. We need to consider the condition of existing fences and gates, access for disabled, and seating.
“Right now the council should rescind authority for the NZCA to proceed with the SS Ventnor project in its present form until all the issues raised are investigated and reports made available to the cemetery committee and to the wider community. This is what people caring for the cemetery want. It should be respected.
“Further community consultation processes should not proceed until the local people managing the Rawene cemetery and the council have reached an agreement on the suitability of the NZCA proposal for the cemetery and the second site.
“It is not our place to help the NZ Chinese Association appear in some favourable cultural context in this matter,” Mr Reilly said.
“It is our duty to respect the memory of the Chinese miners, the iwi who retrieved their remains, and the people of Hokianga by conducting this matter in a transparent and dignified manner.” The Earthquake Commission is advising home owners who suffered landslip damage from recent bad weather to lodge a claim sooner rather than later.
“Anyone whose property was damaged by the weekend’s bad weather should talk with us,” manager national customer care Robyn Nation said.
EQC covers storm and flood damage to residential land, and landslip damage to residential land, plus home and contents, within certain limits. Claims must be lodged within three months of the damage occurring.
“EQC’s approach is to cash-settle claims for land damage, and it is the home owner’s responsibility to arrange for the necessary work to clear or repair their land,” Ms Nation said.
“We will consider a claim for financial costs involved in urgent repairs that might include clearing debris caused by a landslip or flood. Our advice is talk to us before you make any urgent repairs that mean you need to incur a cost. Either way take lots of photos to help us understand your damage.”
EQC coverage of land includes under a home and outbuildings, within eight metres of a home and outbuildings, and under or supporting the a main accessway up to 60 metres from the home (not driveway surfacing), bridges and culverts, some retaining walls, and the removal of debris, such as silt or fallen trees.