Mount Maunganui marae considering blocking port unless they get Government response over pollution

Disgruntled iwi from Whareroa Marae say the Government’s refusing to engage with them about ongoing air quality issues in the Bay of Plenty.

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Whareroa Marae says heavy industry is making them sick and they were left bitterly disappointed when Nanaia Mahuta pulled out of a hui today. Source: 1 NEWS

The marae, one of the country's oldest, claims they're being poisoned by heavy industry and are calling on all current and future consents to be put on ice until their concerns have been addressed.

At a hui today members of the community were "disappointed" by Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who pulled out at short notice, and was in Hawke's Bay.

Whareroa Marae spokesperson, Joel Ngatuere, says what could more important than the health of Maori and New Zealanders "when she's the Maori development minister", he says.

Marae at Mount Maunganui says nearby heavy industry is making residents sick

Mr Ngatuere says the marae has been trying to speak with Government since August last year, and recent commentary from the Government about a clean green New Zealand just doesn't stack up.

"They talked about sustainability, they talked about the New Zealand brand... they used our own words Taiao , Kaitiakitanga, but how can you talk about the New Zealand brand and being a clean green country and use our words in terms of taiao and kaitiakitanga if you're not going to live it."

He says that image doesn't apply to the people of Whareroa and Mount Maunganui.

"Our message to the minister and Prime Minister come here and listen to us.

"Put a pause on all new consents or renewal of consents, let's work together on a ten year managed retreat of all heavy industries and poisonous industries out of the mount into a purpose built area where they can operate and still service the port," he says.

Residents who spoke to the Environment Ministry representatives today talked about respiratory issues, black soot on windows, and children unable to play outside because of the odour and air quality.

Dr Jim Miller from Toi Te Ora Public Health says "poor air quality and health impacts in the Mount industrial area are concerning" and exposure to air pollutants requires action by public authorities.

He says he's been involved with a number of air quality and health issues such as high sulphur dioxide levels and dust issues at Whareroa.

"We strongly supported the Regional Council’s updating of the Regional Air Plan which aims to tighten the rules around emissions to air and improve the Council’s ability to ensure that these are adhered to.

"Air quality monitoring in the Mount Maunganui industrial area has shown repeated breaches of National Air Quality Standards, which should be a minimum guarantee of air quality for the public, leading to the air above the Mount Maunganui Industrial area being designated as a polluted airshed," Dr Miller says.

Meanwhile Minister Mahuta says she will visit Whareroa Marae and address their concerns around health related issues and air quality "that's why I've asked Ministry for the Environment officials to go in and meet with them and also alongside the (Bay of Plenty) regional council to asses what can be done for them," she says.

Residents say if further consents are granted, and the government remains silent on the issue, they will look to protest at the Port of Tauranga.