15 Jun 2015

Iwi fight to stay GMO free

8:07 am on 15 June 2015

Iwi in Tai Tokerau are fighting to keep their rohe free of Genetically Modified Organisms.

Tai Tokerau and environmental groups supported Whangarei District Council in successfully defending the right of local authorities to manage the use of Genetically Modified Organisms.

Federated Farmers took a test case to the Environment Court arguing Northland Regional Council had acted outside the law in taking that view managing their use. The farming lobby group lost and is now appealing that decision in the High Court.

Representative for Ngāti Hau, Benjamin Pittman, said they were "standing up for what they believe", because tikanga Māori held strict divisions between human and non-human things, and those to do with the body and food.

"Under the principles of tikanga, which are the all-guiding principles for us - how we live and everything; the notion of combining things like genetic materials from one organism to another is really quite offensive," he said.

Mr Pittman said as kaitiaki, or guardians, iwi felt they had the right to be part of any process that controls Genetically Modified Organisms.

"There's this thing that is there called Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and under Te Tiriti o Waitangi our tūpuna (ancestors) - people like my great-great grandfather, Patuone, and all the other chiefs - agreed to certain things," he said.

"We believe that as kaitiaki, as guardians of that heritage, we do have a right to have a say of what is done in our environment and that means the total environment.

"So we feel we have a right to make comment and be part of the consultative processes about the release of things like Genetically Modified Organisms in our areas."

A date has not yet been set for the appeal.

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