Stories of sadness and a rural community divided were heard at a recent hui called by Kapehu Marae at Arapohue.
The gathering was held to raise contributions for a cultural impact assessment submission to the August 8 hearing of the Tegel Foods Ltd application for resource consent to establish a chicken farm on neighbouring land.
Marae spokeswoman, Dr Margaret Mutu, said “a number expressed sadness at the divisions that have been created by Tegel approaching landowners to sell their homes and then imposing confidentiality clauses that mean they no longer talk to their neighbours, many of whom were old friends. That the divisions have filtered down to young children is particularly distressing,” she said.
“They shared the stories handed down to them by their elders, of growing up and living on Kapehu and in the Northern Wairoa, of the good times and the sad times and the times of great trauma and loss of life — during the 1918 flu and later to tuberculosis. Health issues were a major consideration of the hui — a number of those present were health professionals.”
Tegel has requested consent to build a chicken farm, which would have the capacity to stock up to 1.3 million chickens and employ 32 people on land near Arapohue.
Objections from Kapehu Marae have focussed on the close proximity to the marae urupa, as well as perceived noise and pollution threats.
Dr Mutu says the marae is investigating the impact of chicken farms internationally to understand how they operate and the effects they have on neighbouring communities.
“International scientists report being very concerned about the unacceptably high-level of the negative impacts of these factory farms. They are particularly concerned about the odour, the airborne allergy-causing particles and the significant detrimental health effects of both those working in and those living around the farms.”
Dr Mutu says the findings of these investigations will be included in the cultural impact assessment and confirmed the decision to decline the consents being applied for.
A Tegel spokesperson responded to allegations of dividing the community stating: “Tegel appreciates and respects the differing views across the community and is continuing to work through the resource consent process prior to the hearing.”
A concert organised by the Kaipara Community Association will be held at the Toka Toka Tavern on Saturday, July 21 from 3pm to raise money for the legal expenses required to oppose Tegel.