Twenty-two years after his father led a hikoi to be a voice for water, Hona Edwards has led one himself, against the commercial extraction of water at Poroti Springs.
Mr Edwards, a rangitira of Te Urirori, Te Parawhau and Te Mahurehure hapu, said yesterday's hikoi through Whangarei was fantastic.
The group, estimated to be more than 200 people in size, carried signs and flags as they chanted their way through central Whangarei.
It was organised after Zodiac Holdings made an application for resource consent to build a bottling plant at the site on Mangakahia Rd. The company has since put the application on hold but it can be restarted at any time.
After meeting at the Water St car park, the hikoi set off at about 10am. The first stop was the Northland Regional Council offices across the road.
The group wanted to deliver a detailed submission objecting to the bottling plant at Poroti Springs. The door was locked, so Whatitiri Maori Reserves trustee Millan Ruka slid the document under the door.
Next, at the nearby Whangarei District Council offices, Mr Ruka delivered the document to a receptionist.
From there, the protest headed to Cameron St Mall, where it stopped for speeches, before carrying on to Laurie Hall Park.
Green MP Catherine Delahunty and Whangarei Labour candidate Tony Savage spoke in support of the marchers.
Mr Edwards said the group filled the whole mall and he was pleased to see the support from the community.
"It's an issue for everybody."
He said the local hapu were demanding quality water for everyone and for everything which lives in the water.
"We're obligated to combat pollution in our waterways."
Mr Edwards said a large percentage of waterways around the country were polluted.
"The potable drinking water that is left, we're going to ship that overseas, it's not hard to think we will run out of water."
He said the message that "we oppose water bottling for export out of the country" was projected strongly during the hikoi.
"The march was respectful so our message could be heard."
Mr Edwards said yesterday's march was also in support of other groups up and down the country facing the same issue.
He told those in the group they could congratulate themselves for the efforts they had put in to send their message to community leaders.
"We have achieved that without abuse, we have achieved that without conflict, we have achieved that with harmony," he said.
"I've got that much love, I want you to take some of that and take it home with you. I want you fellas (sic) to take some of that love and give it to the ngahere, give it to the awa and give it to your whenua."