A "Parihaka style protest" is taking place in Foxton's CBD to prevent a council plan to move the cenotaph.

At 3am on Monday morning Foxton residents begun to gather at the base of the cenotaph, the crowd grew, a petition was created, a large tent was erected and people hunkered down for the graveyard shift.

It is believed by many locals that the cenotaph lies directly above a urupa (burial ground).

Foxton resident Barba Twomey is protesting to keep her tupuna (ancestors) undisturbed.


"This is a urupa, and why are they even contemplating spending all this money on a main street upgrade when we are drinking brown water," she said.

Principal of the Foxton Primary School Ani Skipper said it was all about uplifting the spirits of the students' kaumatua (grandparent) who were protesting.

"We are just trying to pass on history and knowledge to our kids," she said.

Foxton School students went along and sung waiata (songs) in support.

Horowhenua District Council allegedly brought in Manawatu iwi Rangitane to bless the site in preparation for construction.

Foxton iwi Ngati Ngarogo representative Gordon Thompson said he feels his iwi have been undermined.

"This was our land and it was gifted for this use by our forefathers. Rangitane have come down from Palmerston North to bless what should have been our right as tangata whenua (people of the land)."

Kere Kere Ward councillor Michael Feyen joined the protest and said consultation could have pre-empted this reaction.

"People in this town are sick and tired of just being told and not given the opportunity to ask questions or have a say," he said.

Feyen feels that if the philosophy of the Treaty of Waitangi had been applied situations like the protest could be averted.

"The treaty is based on trust and partnership and we need to start implementing that philosophy as soon as possible."

Further comment was being sought from the Horowhenua District Council.

- Horowhenua Chronicle