"Meridian Energy has confirmed it donated money to a West Coast iwi which changed its mind over its opposition to the massive Mokihinui River hydro dam.
Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae, the council representing a sub-tribe of Ngai Tahu, strenuously opposed the dam, but changed its mind during the hearing. This week, it publicly supported the scheme.
Yesterday, the iwi said Meridian had agreed to pay into a fund "to monitor effects". Information on "anything else" would be released after a runanga meeting at Arahura this weekend, runanga chairman Francois Tumahai, of Christchurch, said.
Meridian confirmed that it had made a payment, but declined to say how much.
Meridian said yesterday that it had made a payment so Ngati Waewae could "fund other cultural initiatives". "They did a lot of work for us in assessing the cultural impact of the project," spokesman Alan Seay said. "The cultural project we are funding is to offset the impact of the project on the mauri [life force] of the river."
In Ngati Waewae's original submission, represented by Richard Barber, it opposed the scheme for cultural reasons. "Ngati Waewae considers that the construction of the dam, power-generating stations and the associated infrastructure, such as the lake and transmission lines, will degrade the awa [river] and present a significant loss to the tangata whenua," he told commissioners.
However, Mr Tumahai said Mr Barber had not represented the true views of Ngati Waewae. The iwi had originally had a neutral stance on the project, he told Westport News.Idiots - you think you can offset the destruction of the mauri of the awa by setting aside some cultural fund?
Destroy the rivers, destroy the land and destroy your mana. What a shameful incident, I hope the true voices of Ngati Waewae oppose these sellouts.