Members of Ngati Haua hapu met at Kotahitanga Marae, Whangape, on Monday to discuss the implications of the discovery of methamphetamine (P) manufacturing sites and the burning of six whanau baches late last year. The hui was attended by whanau from Auckland, Whangarei and the Far North, along with a member of a neighbouring iwi, whose son lost his life to P.
Other local hapu were also there to show their support to Ngati Haua in the hope that they could deter the spread of methamphetamine in their own communities.
Local police gave a 20-minute Powerpoint summary of the methamphetamine industry and a map showing the sites of seven meth labs that were on Whakakoro Mountain last year. Detective Sergeant Trevor Beatson said he was unable to discuss details relating to the charges currently before the courts, instead focusing on tell-tale signs of production, waste products and users.
Police iwi liaison officer Te Uri Reihana urged the hui to gather whanau strength to deter the meth industry, and suggested that if people found any other signs of labs at Whangape they should phone him. The police were thanked for their presentation and left the hui.
A statement released yesterday said those present were unanimous in giving their support to the reclaiming of Whakakoro and their tupuna lands at Whangape from those who chose to manufacture and supply methamphetamine.
"To avoid misinformation and finger-pointing, it was agreed that all investigations concerning the manufacture and supply of P, and the burning of the baches, would be left in the hands of the police. Anyone who has information that can assist in the investigation of either matter is encouraged to report it to the police, confident that they have the support of the majority of the Ngati Haua community.
"Parents are also urged to maintain calm in their whanau to avoid any spillover effects by their young, who tend to defend or attack the P industry."
Some of the bach owners shared their hurt at the senseless waste of the mass burning, the statement added, but in a spirit of resilience two baches had already been rebuilt.
Meanwhile, the hui set Saturday January 26 as a whanau day to celebrate reclaiming Whakakoro for Ngati Haua whanui. Locals will organise a trek over the mountain to Tuauru, and the hui was keen to see a gateway opened in the future for Ngati Haua to access the coast. Whanau are invited to meet at Taieka at 10am, and to bring a picnic lunch.
In 1992 Ngati Haua launched an occupation at Taieka to prevent the sale of Whakakoro to a former Lotto winner. In 1997 Whakakoro was listed with the Waitangi Tribunal under claim WAI 696. A further hui will be called at a later date to discuss possible options for the return of Whakakoro to Ngati Haua.
The hui said the statement had been prepared to inform wider members of Ngati Haua living in different parts of Aotearoa and overseas. It was hoped that it would help alleviate some of the "taimaha" felt within Whangape.
"Silence, or turning a blind eye, should not be misinterpreted as complicity, more so in some cases fear or an inability to cope and a sense of despair with the surrounding events," it said.
"As several kuia said yesterday, no one is perfect, we all have flaws and weaknesses, and eventually we will all get to meet our Maker.
"Despite all that has happened, through our shared whakapapa we still have aroha for our whanaunga, but leave the matter with the police to conclude their enquiries.
"He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he wahine, he mokopuna!"