A four-day occupation protesting against a planned carpark and access road at the Kerikeri Inlet has ended, but opponents say they have placed a rāhui against any future development in the area.
Members of the hapū Te Uri Taniwha oppose plans by the Far North District Council and its commercial arm, Far North Holdings, to build a road to an existing jetty and boat ramp at Windsor Landing, off Kerikeri Inlet Rd. Built by a developer in the 1990s, then abandoned, the ramp is council-owned but has no official vehicle access. Currently boaties drive across a neighbouring private property to use it.
The council wants to put in an access road and a 20-space carpark to take pressure off overcrowded boat ramps on the other side of the inlet, which is opposed by some hapū members and local residents.
Waima-based Ian Mitchell (Te Uri Taniwha) organised a peaceful protest on Friday evening at the site, which drew more than 40 people, just under 20 of whom were Pākehā neighbours.
He said he opposed the plan because it involved filling in part of an 800-year-old fish trap, and would damage extensive middens.
He and three supporters camped on the site until Monday afternoon, and now Te Uri Taniwha has imposed a rāhui against any development in the area, including construction of the road and carpark, as well as dredging.
The rāhui is designed to maintain the site's cultural and spiritual integrity, and has no effect on public access.
Mr Mitchell, who also wanted Windsor Landing to be known by its original name, Rangitoto, said he was "rapt" with Friday evening's show of support, especially from young people and local residents, who he had invited by phone, email and leaflets.
Among them was Hori Parata, a Ngātiwai elder from Whangārei, who said he was concerned about the number of Māori archaeological sites that were being destroyed.
Local resident Jim Johnston, one of several Pākehā who spoke during the pōwhiri, said he netted for mullet in the area, and enjoyed its peaceful atmosphere.
"My first thought when I heard about the ramp was that this is marvellous, I'll be able to launch my boat at any time. But we have so much to lose. I love it and feel at peace here," he said.
Others worried about the little blue penguins that nested in the area or increased traffic on Inlet Rd, while Diana Sandifer spoke of the area's "special spirit," and pledged to "come down and support you every now and then" if an occupation took place.
The development has been approved by Heritage New Zealand's Māori Committee, and was appealed, unsuccessfully, in the Environment Court by Mr Mitchell, although the judge did tighten up some of the conditions. The court found that the middens and fish traps had already been damaged in recent decades, and no evidence that filling in part of an inlet would affect the functionality of the fish trap.
The Far North District Council has been contacted for comment.