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Ed Sheeran

Pohutukawa wrong tree for Erebus memorial

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Ngāti Whātua leader Dame Naida Glavish says the siting of an Erebus memorial beside the Parnell Rose Gardens shows a break down in heritage, environmental and cultural protection processes.

Dame Naida has led a 40-day occupation of the Mataharehare pā site overlooking the container port.

The protest has gained the support of Margaret Brough, the daughter of a passenger Aubrey Brough, on the doomed flight whose petition opposing the placement of the memorial now has more than 5000 signatures.

Dame Naida says because the Heritage Ministry’s resource consent was pushed though by Auckland Council on a non-notified basis, it did not come before wider iwi or Heritage New Zealand’s Māori committee, which she is a member of.

She’s also not accepting assurances from the council arborist that the work won’t harm a 200-year old pōhutukawa.

"(He said) they'd only take a metre off its roots. Stick a nail in your big toe and see if that affects the rest of you. It is stupid. There was no cultural input into the design or the arborist's report. He understood nothing about the fact the tree is te karere, it is a messenger, it tells us what is going on under the sea in relation to Tangaroa that it is looking out to," she says.

Dame Naida Glavish says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told her the site was chosen because the pōhutukawa would embrace the wairua of the 257 passengers and crew who lost their lives in the disaster - but in the Māori world, that’s the role of the pūriri.

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