Māori Party all aboard with IwiRail plan
By Eruera Rerekura – Eru.Rerekura@tvnz.co.nz | @erurerekura
The Māori Party has unveiled an industrious plan to bring parts of the unused rail network back to life under the banner of ‘IwiRail’.
The overall plan it says is to reinvigorate and stimulate regional economies, connect isolated communities, open up an untapped tourism market on the East Coast, and create new jobs.
Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell told Te Karere that it’s eyeing up the East Coast to start the project because it makes sense to shift freight from trucks to tracks considering how rough State Highway 35 is.
“I a māua e haere ana ki Te Tai Rāwhiti kotahi tonu te kōrero: Whakatikahia te rori. Mō te aha nā? Kia taea ai e rātou te heri i ngā rākau, i ngā rawa, i ngā taonga ki Tūranga rānei, ki Ahuriri rānei,” hei tā Flavell.
Party co-leader Marama Fox said she’s been in talks with iwi such as Ngāti Kahungunu who see the potential of using the rail network to boost their local economy.
“Ināianei, kua pakaru taua paku wahanga o taua huarahi mō te tereina, ā, i mea mai a Ngāti Kahungunu - kia kakama, kia hoki anō tāua tāua kia whai te kai kei aku ringa,” hei tā Fox.
Ms Fox said that IwiRail had the potential to add $1 billion into the country’s balance sheet.
The party’s president, speaking with his Waikato-Tainui hat on, Tukoroirangi Morgan, said it’s a perfect match for the Ruakura inland port, near Hamilton, his iwi has investments in.
He said that Ruakura will also be a major hub for railway freight.
“Kua kōkiri tā mātou kaupapa, te whakatū i tētehi kaupapa whakatōpu i ngā rawa katoa ki runga o Ruakura.
“Kua kite nei mātou i te tino hua, i te tino painga o te whakakotahi i ngā mahi i runga i te rori me te kaupapa railway nei, nē?”
The Māori Party said with a dual investment in the renewal of railway and tourism infrastructure, IwiRail plan will grow jobs in the regions that need it the most such as Gisborne.
Mr Flavell said for the East Coast there is huge potential for Māori tourism and to give overseas visitors more options, other than Rotorua.
“Ara anō ngā mea o Te Tai Rāwhiti e kī atu ana: Ha! Ka haere ngā tūruhi ki hea? Ki Rotorua, kaua ki a mātou o Te Tai Rāwhiti. He pai kē me whakatūwhera te kūwaha kia taea ai e rātou te haere ki roto i Te Tai Rāwhiti rānō.”
He said the party’s philosophy is that if it renews the neglected regional rail the investments will flow.