Supplied / Lawrie Cairns
The Ōhau River, flowing into the Tasman Sea on the bottom right, runs near the wāhi tapu of Tirotiro Whetū and the land proposed to become the Douglas Links Golf Course.
Horowhenua iwi have warned a group wanting to develop a golf course near the Ōhau River of wahi tapu in the area, with a kaitiaki giving specific examples of the dangers involved.
The Developers say they have listed so many wriggle room, but the size of the site and the style of the course they want to build only gives so much wriggle.
Wednesday was the final day of a hearing concerning environmental consents Xero co-founder Hamish Edwards and his company Grenadier Ltd needs to enable the construction of an 18-hole links golf course adjacent to the uhau River.
The course, which Edwards says will be priced affordably and as eco-friendly as possible, would be named Douglas Links Golf Course and feature on-site accommodation.
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Some consents have already been granted by Horowhenua District Council through a non-notified process.
Much of Wednesday involved Ngāti Tukorehe and Muaūpoko giving evidence, much of it about wāhi tapu in the area of the proposed course.
An especially significant site is Tirotiro Whetū, a known site of occupation for Māori in the area.
Ngāti Tukorehe kaitiaki Patrick Seymour, whose family has lived on the Whenua near the proposed course since the early 1800s, said Tirotiro Whetū was a well-known wāhi tapu.
A Pākehā man who moved there in the 1870s with his family did not understand the significance of the area and broke the tapu, with two of his daughters later Drowning.
“This came about through broken tapu.”
He also had a first-hand experience of people taking taonga from Tirotiro Whetū and later becoming ill, he said.
“The area is so Sacred and Tapu, it cannot be Disturbed.
“What is under the Whenua, leave it under the Whenua.
“I don’t beg or plead or anything. I say it like it is. ”
Lindsay Poutama of Ngāti Tukorehe said shell middens in the area showed Tirotiro Whetū was a significant p of of importance to the iwi.
Iwi members did not describe the significance of wāhi tapu for the sake of it, but as part of practicing kaitiakitanga, he said.
“Us as kaitiaki have a role to play to protect you from it.”
Ngāti Tukorehe had not been part of a true consultation and cooperation with Grenadier, which affected their ability to exercise kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga, they said.
Dean Wilson, who spoke for Muaupoko, said the iwi was currently against the proposed course, but was working with the Grenadier to create a memorandum of understanding.
Muaūpoko had a strong connection to the Whenua near the uhau River and the Dunes along the coast, with the iwi Burying their dead along the Dunes.
Wilson said he and others who visited the site felt the strong wairua of Tirotiro Whetū.
Everyone would have to come together and talk if the course went ahead or not, as the consent process had brought the importance of Whenua to the fore, he said.
Grenadier’s Counsel John Maassen said he wanted some time before filing a right of reply so more conversations could be had with tangata Whenua.
Edwards wanted to have a good relationship with iwi and take time to digest what they had raised, Maassen said.
But a links course needed to run along the coastlines, while the plot of land meant changing course design was difficult.
“There’s to be intimacy,” Maassen said.
“We are not proposing significant changes to the hole design.”