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Concerns over Waste Management’s massive dump polluting Kaipara Harbour

Fight the Tip, Save the Dome protesters along state highway 1 ahead of a rahui scheduled to be put in place this morning. Photo / Supplied

By: Imran AliImran Ali is a reporter for the Northern Advocate

Fight the Tip, Save the Dome protesters along state highway 1 ahead of a rahui scheduled to be put in place this morning. Photo / SuppliedBy: Imran AliImran Ali is a reporter for the Northern Advocate

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Plans for a new rubbish dump on part of a forest block in Dome Valley has angered Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith and iwi leaders who say the smelly operation will threaten marine life and cause traffic congestion.

Ngati Whatua, Ngati Manuhiri and other iwi leaders opposed to the plan will this morning put a rahui over the proposed site while Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith intends to lodge a submission to the Auckland Council in a bid to stop the project.

Chinese-owned Waste Management New Zealand recently lodged a resource consent application with the Auckland Council to develop a new dump on part of the Mahurangi Forest and Springhill Farm sites in Dome Valley.

The Government has approved the sale of the 1010ha of freehold land by State Highway 1, just south of Wellsford, for a price that's been permanently suppressed.

Waste Management NZ bought the land for the purpose of developing a landfill to service the Auckland region. The landfill will be developed as a replacement facility for the applicant's existing Redvale landfill which is likely to reach capacity as early as 2026.

Although the proposed dump would be just outside Northland, Smith said it would affect all Northlanders in some ways.

Smith said the nature of the operation Waste Management intended to undertake which involved 350 trucks transporting rubbish from Auckland to the landfill each day meant there was an unacceptable risk of the Kaipara Harbour being poisoned.

"It's not only about the potential risk of poisoning the Hoteo River just north of Dome Valley but that river flows into Kaipara Harbour and already there are challenges with sediment and other stuff.

"Kaipara Harbour represents 90 per cent of North Island's snapper hatchery which could be negatively impacted and you never get that back once it's gone. We're also talking about people who have been gathering fish and shellfish for hundreds of years so their way of life is also at risk."

The mayor spoke at a public meeting in Wellsford last weekend to discuss putting in place a rahui.

"We're a peninsula region so we need to raise awareness about the risks the new dump poses because all of Northland will be affected."

Apart from polluting waterways, Smith said the new rubbish dump would mean an increase in traffic along SH1 and all of Northland would be disadvantaged by a significant bottleneck.

"We, as a nation, should be thinking cleverly when it comes to waste disposal [with plans] that are forward looking rather than digging a big hole in the ground in a fragile environment," he said.

Mikaera Miru, a kaumatua from Waiaotea Marae at Tinopai, dubbed the new dump "an environment disaster".

He said the rahui would be in place until such time a hui was called to lift it.

"The mouth of the river has large sea grass where baby snapper live and what we're doing is stopping the poison getting into waterways. Once the nursery for baby snapper is gone, it's gone."

Other territorial authorities in Northland, including the Northland Regional Council, does not have a view on Waste Management's plan for now.

Waste Management is buying the land at Dome Valley from Matariki Forests, which is 64 per cent American-owned, and Springhill Estate, which is in Kiwi hands.

The Auckland Council will publicly notify the resource consent application.