Council and hapū to work on Taipā wastewater solution

Published on 22 March 2021

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Far North District Council will work with Ngāti Kahu hapū and community representatives to find the best upgrade option for Taipā wastewater treatment plant, the Environment Court has confirmed.

Under the agreement, affirmed earlier this month by Environment Judge J A Smith, the Council will partner with Te Rūnanga-a-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu, Te Mana o te Wai Hapū Integration Roopu Charitable Trust, and Clean Waters to the Sea Tokarau Moana Charitable Trust to find the most practical option for upgrading the wastewater treatment plant (which serves Mangōnui, Coopers Beach, Cable Bay and Taipā)  and disposing of treated wastewater.

The agreement follows a September 2019 appeal by the groups against a Northland Regional Council decision to issue a resource consent permitting Far North District Council to continue discharging treated wastewater into a tributary of Te Wai o Te Parapara (Parapara Stream).

For several years, hapū and other members of the Doubtless Bay community have objected to the Council discharging treated wastewater from the plant into the stream, because they are concerned it is polluting the stream and marine environment.

However, rather than pursuing objections to the consent in court, the parties have agreed to work together through a working group set up to assess upgrade and disposal options. The aim is to find the “best practicable option” for wastewater disposal with a particular focus on land-based disposal. While that work is undertaken, Far North District Council will undertake improvements to the existing plant; for example, by desludging settling ponds.

Far North Mayor, John Carter, says the agreement signals a step-change in the Council’s approach to working with communities and hapū. “We are committed to working as partners to find a solution for Taipā. If the best practicable option turns out to be land-based disposal, the Council will then work through the land acquisition and financial implications of that. Whatever the outcome, we have committed to a relationship that I hope will go beyond our search for a wastewater solution.”

Te Rūnanga-a-iwi o Ngāti Kahu Manahautu (CEO), Ānahera Herbert-Graves, says the agreement was built on the maturing Tiriti o Waitangi relationship between Hapū, Iwi and Council. 

“Consequently, two very distinct constitutional arrangements are now co-designing a wastewater solution for the benefit of every affected whānau, hapū and community.  As we strengthen our rangatiratanga relationships with Council and other kawanatanga agencies, we look forward to achieving additional beneficial outcomes in the future.”

Te Mana o te Wai Hapū Integration Roopu Charitable Trust Chairperson, Julie Rickit, says that after many years of korero with FNDC on how to improve discharges from the Taipa wastewater plant, the Trust has finally achieved an agreement to create a partnership working group. 

“Our priority is finding and implementing short-term solutions for the existing wastewater plant. Long-term plans include engagement with the wider community to find the best possible wastewater discharge option without polluting the Doubtless Bay catchment area.”

The working group has already held its first meeting this month when key priorities and timelines for participants were discussed. 

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Last updated 25 March 2021