New Zealand Greens‘ Te Mātāwaka, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere and Teanau Tuiono met with the Rongomaiwahine descendants to discuss the lack of consultation that RocketLab has engaged in during the operation of their launch facility in the Mahia Peninsula.1
Teanau Tuiono, the New Zealand Green Party’s first MP with Cook Islands and Māori heritage, summarizes the issue by saying ”…RocketLab and the Government have missed the mark with honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi”. The Te Tiriti o Waitangi, or The Treaty of Waitangi, is a series of documents signed between the Māori People of New Zealand and the British Crown that forms the foundations for the Māori people’s legal obligation to be consulted with during Rocketlabs’ operations on the Whenua (Maori Land).
Tuiono continues,”It is a serious matter we are dealing with when shareholders of Māori land are being missed during consultation processes to do with their whenua…”
The RocketLab launch facility in the Mahia Peninsula has been in operation
s since late 2016, functioning as the world’s first private orbital launch complex, launching approximately 170 flights per year.2
During operations, the Green Party’s Teanau Tuiono points out how the company has given very little information to the Māori people about what the whenau is being used for and that Teanau Tuiono will be working towards holding the government to improve transparency.
The Māori spokesperson of the Green party, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere acknowledges the meeting with the Rongomaiwahine that the Māori peoples have noticed that the recurrent activity of Rocketlab operations has extirpated local birds and kaimoana. This obstruction of the environment is a cause for environmental impact assessments to further protect the whānua (Māori ancestors and family).
The facility has also contributed to a perception of segregation Tuiono explains, because the facility has two separate roads to access the whānua, one for Rocket lab employees and one for the Māori people. The roads are a highly maintained, electric access road and a farm gate gravel road, respectively.
In addition to transparency, Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere concludes that the Green Party supports the Māori people‘s call to right this act of separation and ”will work with you (the Rongomaiwahine) to ensure there are no gates to separate and segregate you from your own whenua”.2