Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mike Butler: Uproar at airport’s new Maori name

Hawke’s Bay residents were hostile to the news, on Monday, that their airport would be known as the Ahuriri Airport Hawke’s Bay to satisfy a request from treaty settlement claimants Mana Ahuriri.

The name-change (the latest in a series that includes Whanganui, Te Wai Pounamu, Te Ika a Maui, Aoraki Mount Cook and Taranaki Mount Egmont) prompted comments on the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper website like “why change the name? If it aint broke, don’t fix it” and “Again, NZ panders to a minority group of radicals.

Twenty six of the 28 texts on the subject in Saturday’s paper vehemently opposed the move as did six substantial letters to the editor over the preceding days.

In one of those letters, Hastings councillor Simon Nixon described discussions with Mana Ahuriri as informal and “amounted to an ambush with insufficient warning given to consider the ramifications”.

He said he remembered claimants putting the case for including Ahuriri in the airport’s name but could not recall the meeting the presentation was tagged on to or whether there was a vote.

Cr Nixon, who has put considerable effort into pushing to upgrade the airport to handle international flights, wrote “most airports have aligned their names and IATA codes with city names. Mangere was changed to Auckland (AKL)” . . . “Adding the word Ahuriri to Hawke’s Bay Airport will be confusing and costly”.

Ahuriri is a suburb around the old inner harbour “just five minutes drive from Napier’s central business district”, “an area steeped in history” where “new apartments sit alongside tiny old fishermen’s cottages, industrial warehouses and wool stores with distinctive saw-tooth rooflines”, as a marketing website describes the area. (1)

In 1851, the Crown bought the Ahuriri block that included the site of Napier which at that time consisted of an oblong group of hills (Scinde Island) which was nearly entirely surrounded by the ocean, but from which ran two shingle spits, one to the north and one to the south.

Maori lived at Petane (Bay View), at Te Whanganui a Orotu (the lagoon area) and on parts of the hills, and at Waiohiki (south of Taradale).

The airport was built on land that came up with the earthquake in 1931 that was part of Te Whanganui a Orotu, not in Ahuriri but at Westshore.

The Mana Ahuriri.claimants who visited both councils said Ahuriri was the name for all of Napier and a name change meant a great deal to them.

Mana Ahuriri describes itself as preceded by the Ahuriri Claimant Group, which included representatives of the three key claims of the Ahuriri Hapu (Wai 55, Wai 168, and Wai 400),

A group known as Ahuriri Hapu is listed on the Office of Treaty Settlements website as having an agreement in principle, signed on December 19, 2013, and are working on the fine detail of the settlement to agree a draft deed of settlement that can be put to the claimant community for ratification. (2)

Part of the settlement that includes financial redress of $19.5-million concerns the lagoon area Te Whanganui a Orotu and also includes $500,000 to help Ahuriri Hapu engage in management of the Ahuriri Estuary.

The Napier and Hastings councils own 26 percent and 24 percent of the airport respectively with the other 50 percent owned by the Crown.

The airport name change was part of a $5-million terminal upgrade to take place next year.

1. Ahuriri,
2. Ahuriri Hapu and the Crown Agreement in Principle,


Barry said...

I hope this asked-for change never ever goes ahead. In a thousand million years maoris would never have invented an airport, so I hope the two councils tell them to get lost!

paul scott said...

Nice. It is amazing Mike.
This Government has a warship with a gaping hole just above water line; but they do not seem to have noticed yet.