A Matakana Island landowner has questioned the right of Maori protestors to make threats of arson against land developers.
Earlier this week on Maori Television Nessie Kuka said “We’re pretty resolute in what we say here. You’re not welcome to build on this island”. Maori Television quoted the protestors as saying “they [the houses] will be burnt down,” referring to any new housing developments on the island.
Matakana Island. File photo.
The land owner and former Tauranga City councillor Bill Faulkner says he didn’t personally hear the threats but he is appalled by what has been reported back to him. And he says, if the threat was made, then it’s a case of double standards.
“My issue is solely that people can make public threats and get away with it.”
Bill says he has no idea whether the threats are serious.
“But if you look at the world terrorism situation, if you go to an airport and jokingly say to the man at the check-in counter, ‘I’ve got a bomb in my bag’, you’d see what happens.”
Matakana locals are angry about the Environment Court decision allowing 103 homes to be built on the island. As a result, it’s understood the protestors are warning the houses will be burnt down.
“This is the biggest green space left in Tauranga Moana and our role is to keep it that way,” says Nessie Kuka.
Western Bay of Plenty Police area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton told SunLive he was unaware of any complaints to police.
He says, people have the right to be safe and feel safe within the community.
“I would suggest there are appropriate forums for these matters to be heard where there are genuine issues or concerns to be raised.
“If parties have concerns about their own personal safety, safety of community members or the safety of their property, then they are able to make contact with us via Tauranga Police.”
Bill Faulkner says the development is not taking place on Maori land but the protestors are making it a Maori issue.
“And using my example of the bomb at the airport. I would have expected the police to have at least acted on the threat and advised these people this sort of behaviour is unacceptable in New Zealand.”
When SunLive spoke to locals on the island they said the threats did not reflect the attitude of the majority of people living on Matakana.