Māori leader opposes Erebus memorial, iwi to gather, karakia, meeting tomorrow

A prominent Māori leader opposes the about-to-be-built national Erebus memorial, vowing to take action to stop it, saying the land has significance for iwi and consultation with tangata whenua was inadequate.

Māori Heritage Council member Dame Rangimārie Naida Glavish (Ngāti Whātua) and several kaumātua oppose the memorial in Parnell’s Dove-Myer Robinson Park near the former Mataharehare Pā site.

Glavish said communication with local Māori had been unclear, work posed threats to a 180-year-old pōhutukawa, views would be blocked and the park had no association with the tragedy.

“I question the validity of the information given to Ōrākei marae for approval,” she said referring to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga saying Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei expressed support for the project in 2018.

“We’ve spoken to kaumātua who live in Ōkahu Bay and live next to Mataharehare who are not happy with what will be a huge monstrosity that looks like a flight path in the middle of a park,” Glavish said.

In November, Waitematā Local Board granted landowner approval for the $3.5 million Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song and work is expected to begin next week but Glavish said it was not too late to stop it.

“It’s never too late. No one is going to tell me that pōhutakawa – it’s like standing next to an ancestor – is not going to be affected. It will affect branches and they will have to cut some of the roots and what for? A memorial to Erebus that happened how many years ago and Mataharehare has nothing to do with Erebus at all,” she said.

“It’s the wrong place. I’m not saying it should not be built because families and whānau still remember it but why there? You stand there and that memorial will block the vision of the Waitematā and Rangitoto,” she said.

Asked about Glavish’s stand, local board chair Richard Northey said it was up to the ministry when work started: “They have not told us. I doubt it would be as early as Monday”.

The ministry said Naylor Love construction would start in the first week of March and run until mid-October.

The ministry acknowledged that the park site was “in the vicinity of two known archaeological sites:Mataharehare Pā on the northern end of Campbells Point, destroyed when the headland was cut down in 1910s/20s and Sir John Logan Campbell’s former residence Kilbryde House, demolished in 1924”.

A number of iwi have associations with the area, the ministry said.

Paul Baragwanath, independent art and cultural adviser, said work would start on Monday. He backed Glavish’s views and said a memorial seat dedicated to his grandfather Owen, was in the park.

An information session is planned on-site tomorrow to show the proposed structure, he said. It will start with a karakia led by Ngāti Whātua.

11am Sunday, karakia, information morning, Dove-Myer Robinson Park.

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