February 17, 2021
Coastal land grab ignored burial history
Ngāti Awa is fighting the building of a subdivision on a spit of land between the Whakatāne River and the sea.
Whakatane District Council sold the Ōpihi block to developers who want to build 240 residential lots as well as a 250-unit retirement village.
Kaumātua Maanu Paul gave evidence to independent planning commissioners yesterday that the council ignored advice from the iwi about the boundaries of an urupā, Ōpihi Whanaungakore, which extends into the block.
He says his grand uncle told hold him about ferrying bodies across the river for burial in the dunes during the 1918 influenza outbreak.
"Nobody today can definitely define where the bodies are and the developers want to use archaeological tools to determine where the bodies lie and they want them exhumed and buried somewhere else and we're saying kao," he says.
Maanu Paul says the development is an attack on the tribe’s rangatiratanga and customary practices.
Ōpihi Whanaungakore is still used as an urupā in the traditional way.
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