Maori Claim Airspace Above Rotorua Marae
By DONOGHUE, Tim
MAORI are claiming the airspace above Rotorua Airport on behalf of a marae directly below flight paths for the proposed new international airport.
The Ngati Uenukukopako iwi is making the claim after discovering at a recent Environment Court hearing in Rotorua that the airspace above their marae is controlled by the Civil Aviation Authority.
It could give them control over operating hours, or the power to impose a curfew.
Spokesman Te Ruapeka Taikato, in Wellington for today’s signing ceremony for the central North Island’s “Treelords” deed of settlement agreement, said his iwi wanted a say on how the airspace above their marae was used.
The iwi was not saying no to a new international airport for Rotorua. Rather, it was seeking an eleventh-hour inclusion of the airspace claim into the Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu Claims Settlement Bill before Parliament.
However, Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen ruled this approach out, saying the airspace claim did not fit within the ambit of Te Arawa’s historical Treaty settlement.
He said the issue should be discussed with the Civil Aviation Authority and Rotorua District Council.
The chief negotiator for the $100 million Te Arawa settlement legislation, Rawiri Te Whare, is nevertheless backing Ngati Uenukukopako in its airport airspace claim.
Shortly before listening to the first reading of the bill yesterday, Mr Taikato recalled how local authorities in Rotorua decided the ancestral meeting house should be destroyed in the 1960s as it was an obstruction to the flight path.
He said iwi members would not allow destruction of its meeting house and associated kohanga reo to take place twice to make way for an airport.
Mr Taikato said the iwi would lodge a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal before September 1.
The chief executive of Rotorua Airport, George White, declined to comment on the airspace claim.
He said work was scheduled to start on runway extensions in September, with the first international flights arriving next April or May.
The director of Environment Services at the Rotorua District Council, Nigel Wharton, said the Environment Court had ruled late last year that the $24 million, 372- metre extension of Rotorua Airport could go ahead.
He said no special arrangements had been entered into with Ngati Uenukukopako iwi after this decision.
(c) 2008 Dominion Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.