Maori veto on water

By Amy Maas

Users of 10-year-old bore supply told to seek approval from 14 Maori groups

Brent Tassell (left) and neighbour Roger Maycock discuss their water predicament in Slowater Lane, Puhoi. Photo / Geoff Dale
Brent Tassell (left) and neighbour Roger Maycock discuss their water predicament in Slowater Lane, Puhoi. Photo / Geoff Dale

A couple have been told to apply to 14 different iwi to keep the water running to their home.

Brent and Jennifer Tassell will need approval to renew resource consent on a bore hole that has been operating for 10 years, supplying water to eight Puhoi homes.

The bore draws water from 305m underground and is the only source of water for the properties in Slowater Lane, on the northern outskirts of greater Auckland.

"It's a hole in the ground that's been there for 10 years," said Jennifer. "It's completely over the top for our situation."

Under the draft Auckland Unitary Plan, all applicants for resource consent for new or existing developments must apply to iwi for them to assess whether it would have an adverse effect on mana whenua.

Taking or using groundwater is on the list of activities that could have a cultural impact, so iwi may insist on a cultural impact assessment - at the applicant's cost.

Applicants may also have to foot the bill for the "costs of engagement" in the process.

The Tassells will meet Labour MP Shane Jones, who has been vocal in his disagreement with iwi approval rules.

He warned the new Auckland Council lacked safeguards.

"Maori heritage, while it's important, it must never be used as a basis for divisiveness - and I fear that's a consequence in this case," he said.

Iwi should not be allowed to intervene to "test whether there's a taniwha down a 10-year-old bore".

An Auckland Council spokeswoman admitted the new rules placed "additional burdens" on applicants, and said the council was working with iwi to streamline the process.

But Brent slammed the application process as "unworkable" for ordinary Aucklanders who would foot the bill for cultural assessments. If denied, they and the other families on the lane - will need to install rain water tanks costing thousands of dollars.

Jennifer added: "It's an extra burden on your average Joe on the street."

- Herald on Sunday

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