The final submission on the proposed Te Waka wind farm was delivered to a hearings committee yesterday - but it was not good news for Unison Networks, the powerlines company applying to the Hastings District Council to erect 37 wind turbines on the top of Te Waka Range near Te Pohue.
Ngati Hineuru Iwi Inc and Maungaharuru-Tangitu Society Inc, which represent tangata whenua in the Maungaharuru area, signalled clearly to the hearing that they did not support the project and asked that the Unison resource application be declined.
Unison's board chairman, Brian Martin, also attended the hearing to hear the iwi submission. It was delivered by Fred Reti, a descendant of Ngati Hineuru, and the designated tangata whenua representative to speak to the committee.
Mr Reti said that when Maori speak of Maungaharuru, they refer to the whole range, including the areas referred to in the resource consent application as Maungaharuru, Titiokura and Te Waka: "We cannot separate one part of the maunga from another. For us, Maungaharuru must be considered in it entirety."
He talked of Maungaharuru's history, cultural values and customary use of the area.
"The maunga frames our rohe . It marks our boundaries. When travelling tribes see our maunga, they know they are approaching our rohe. We refer to it and point to it when welcoming manuhiri into our marae. It is visually significant to the tangata whenua and manuhiri alike," Mr Reti said in his submission.
The iwi of the Maungaharuru had suffered tribal land loss since 1866 and many places held sacred had been desecrated. "It is from this background that we protest the wind farm envisaged by Unison on Maungaharuru. We see the wind farm as a further desecration of the sacredness of our maunga." Committee chairman Dinah Williams asked how the iwi's mana would be compromised by wind turbines.
"We are talking about the views of the maunga, it's (the wind farm) an obstruction and it takes away from the spiritual element of that mountain," Mr Reti replied.
"It's like in the (film) Lord of the Rings, when the shadow is creeping over the land - well, the wind turbines are creeping across our shire."
The iwi perspective opposing the project could be perceived as a blow for Unison's consultation team, which Cr Williams noted had "tried in good faith" to consult iwi. This included meetings with three kaumatua, Rere Puna, Heitia Hiha and Bevan Taylor, as directed by Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc chairman, Ngahiwi Tomoana.
"They are my kaumatua - and I am here with their mandate," Mr Reti confirmed to the hearing.
"Some of us reminded the kaumatua of certain things and they agreed we should make this submission."