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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Maori ban on harbour activity

Maori ban on harbour activity

Last updated 05:00 26/04/2011
Maori have placed a three-month restriction on the use of Lyttelton Harbour.

Concerns over the presence of human waste and the dumping of earthquake rubble in water near Lyttelton sparked the rahui, which was placed on the harbour this month. A rahui is a form of tapu restricting the use of an area or resource.

Rapaki runanga chairman Kopa Lee said the rahui was about the spiritual and physical health of the harbour.

He said those who chose to observe it should not use the water for recreational activities or collect seafood.

"It doesn't mean that no-one can use it. It's a spiritual process that people can either acknowledge or don't acknowledge," he said.

Lee said the runanga had consulted with affected parties, such as the Department of Conservation, about the ban. It would be reviewed after three months.

If things were "on the improve", it would be lifted.

Maori had been concerned about the possibility of rubble from buildings where people had died being dumped in the harbour.

The runanga had an assurance from Lyttelton Port of Christchurch that this would not happen, he said.

Jack Tar Sailing co-owner Michael Rossouw said he had not been able to take his boat out on Lyttelton Harbour since the February quake.

Despite the health warning being lifted, there were no tourists to take out and the infrastructure at the port was "stuffed".

He said the rahui was an issue for Maori and not something he would observe.

"Whatever they want to do is up to them, but they can't stop other people earning a living," he said.

Te Waka Pounamu Outrigger Canoe Club founding member Craig Pauling said he went for a paddle in Lyttelton Harbour a week before hearing about the rahui.

He had decided not to use the harbour until the rahui was lifted.

"It's for people to make their own choices."

Canterbury Community and Public Health lifted its health warning on the harbour last Thursday.

Canterbury medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey said tests showed water quality was now good enough to allow for recreational use, but the ban on collecting shellfish remained.

He had been notified of the rahui, which he said was a decision for Maori.

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