A small protest to protect a pristine New Zealand Island against environmental degradation, the dumping of rubbish and risk of fire has taken hold after the blocking of a wharf. Matakana Island, with an estimated population of around 255 people, lies off the coast of Mt Maungnaui in the Bay of Plenty.
Recently tourists on board a boat that uses the island freely were greeted with the wharf blocked by debris meaning tourists were not welcome to disembark. The owner of the tourist operation has told media that it is the latest example of aggression from those living on the island that he described as a few bad apples.
The operator runs “party cruises” and “guided tours of the local area."
Matakana resident Des Samuels has told local media that:
“Like any community, we address issues together, usually in monthly hui. It shouldn't come as a surprise the people here are quite protective of the island and our lifestyle. We try to take care of things as best we can.
“I have been a tour operator in the past, and sometimes there were issues relating to the forest, such as people freely walking around in there. Everyone needs a permit to enter the forest, including island people.”
“I belong to the volunteer fire brigade, and we attended a big camp fire on the beach on New Year's Day. We found a whole lot of campers asleep on the beach with a big fire blazing. That's an example of what we're trying to keep on top of.
“A fire at this time of year starts putting island people in danger, as there are families who still live in the forest.”
Another Island resident told NewsNow that some people on the mainland "treat the island like their own personal playground; they come over, make a mess, dump rubbish everywhere and then leave....some of the comments I have read today are nothing more than the good old Maori bashing when Pakeha (referring to European New Zealanders) tourist operators like this guy don't get their way but want to leave all the mess...."
The response from some on the mainland has been described as bordering on racist with one suggesting “Withdraw all services such as rescue chopper.” And “Seems to be alot of taking back "whats ours" in regards to land claims etc. If we were to really get in and look at the big picture, sure, have back what is yours and we take back what is ours. That means, electricity, motor vehicles, modern housing, benefits, laws that protect people and property.”
The comments that appeared on a local small news outlet appear to be inflaming tensions.
The local Council have meanwhile said the debris would be removed as soon as possible. The photos were taken by the local media outlets Ryan Wood who appears travelled courtesy of the disenfranchised tour operator, Brandon Stone
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