Public consultation of Whangarei harbour dredging begins
28 March, 2017
The New Zealand Refinery Company has long-held plans to dredge the Whangarei Harbour to allow fully laden oil tankers to enter. This week, it began public consultation taking the information to the people.
An application is pending to dredge the main channel and ancient pathway of the sperm whale into Whangarei Harbour.
Te Parawhau elder Pereri Tito, “What about the whales and our elder siblings, the sperm whales? Those places belong to them and to us too. The elders of Te Parawhau have spoken. They will never agree to Whangarei Harbour being dredged yet again.”
New Zealand Refining CEO Sjoerd Post, “Whether its orcas or whales whether it is the benthic population or flow rates through the harbour, whether it’s Mayor Bank Home Point or the marine reserve. They can talk to the experts and understand why this project has basically relatively minimal impact on the environment.”
The CEO of New Zealand Refinery Company has hit the ground with a team of consultants to ensure the public is well informed.
“People are concerned and they have every right to be concerned. We all love living around Whangarei. It's a beautiful place and we all want it to stay beautiful. So people are allowed to say ‘hey I see your doing something it’s kind of slightly big intervention I want to know more about it I want to understand it’.“
Tito says, “How can we explain our customs and traditions with regard to the spiritual and environmental when they don't know or understand our traditional knowledge? We don't accept the proposal and we'll make our stand under article two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which is very clear.”
Here the planning process moves to another level with the Whangarei hap? collective deciding not to comment in the media until the completion of a cultural impact assessment, leaving the words of their elders to lead them.
“Our ancestor and current elders said, 'No, we don't agree. Stop the desecration'. There is pain, sadness and anger in their call to stop what's being proposed for the harbour.”
Post says, “We want to have an open dialogue with no hidden secrets come and talk to us. This is what we want to do, this is why we think it’s good and these are the consequences. This allows people to make up their mind with the full knowledge of the facts.”
The proposal is due to be lodged with the planning tribunal in two months' time.