Friday, July 24, 2009

Irreplaceable maori site gets ready for the bulldozer


Nationally important maori sites get ready for the bulldozer.

"Irreplaceable" 700-year-old Maori ruins of national importance in South Wairarapa may be developed into a residential subdivision - upsetting archaeologists who demand the entire area be preserved.

Waiwhero, about 2km north of Ngawi, containing well-preserved examples of 14th-century Maori gardens and a battle site sacred to local iwi, is the site of a planned subdivision into four houses."

Otago University archaeology professor Helen Leach, who has written extensively about the area, said the site is one of the most prominent examples of Polynesian stonewall gardening systems in New Zealand and is irreplaceable.

"It makes my blood boil, to be quite honest."

I know how you feel Helen, many of us do.

"A 2006 Department of Conservation report says Waiwhero and the surrounding area of Palliser Bay have extraordinary historical value.

"The sites are largely intact and many are well mapped. Terraces, middens and living structures exist within the gardens. These sites are, therefore, a relict archaeological landscape, primarily because they collectively capture an economy at a defined period in time.
"As such, their importance cannot be understated."

Cannot be understated! Will that protect these sites?

What do tangata whenua say?

"Kahungunu ki Wairarapa resource consent officer Haami Te Whaiti said Waiwhero was the site of an important battle in the iwi's history.

Waiwhero ("red water") referred to a stream immediately to the south that was stained with blood after a battle between hapu.

The iwi was asking for a qualified archaeologist to monitor all earthworks on the site to prevent damage to artifacts both on and below the surface.

The artifacts represented the iwi's heritage and were a source of their identity, Mr Te Whaiti said."

And the developers?

"Property Brokers rural real estate consultant John Stephen, who bought the property in 2005, said he was not made aware of the archaeological value of the land until late in the resource consent application process and said the area was already highly developed.

South Wairarapa District Council senior planner Chris Gorman said subdivisions along coastal areas could be seen as an opportunity to improve the protection of heritage areas.

A developer could be required to build fences or carry out other measures to protect a site as a requirement for consent, he said."

"The motivation to do the work is increased because they won't get their title otherwise."

That's how absurd it gets.

Develop the area to protect it.

Destroy the village to save it.

Kill people to give them freedom.

The same lines and it is orwellian doublespeak.

And meridian use the same technique - if you let us build the dam then we will put some protection in for the damage we cause.

"A decision to preserve all archaeological sites along the coast would be something for iwi to decide, Mr Gorman said.

The council was disallowed from giving out details of archaeological sites to the public in order to prevent people tampering with sacred sites, he said. "I guess the lesson is anyone on the coast better make sure they get a hold of a iwi representative or someone on the Maori Standing Committee before they get too far down the track."

You got that right Mr Gorman. The days of maori just taking the abuse of their rights are over.

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