In the April issue of the Beacon we reported on a petition that was underway to restore to the top of Mt Roskill the longstanding tradition of a cross at Easter and a star at Christmas. Following is an update from petition organisers Jonathan Subritzky, Ella Kumar and Fonoti Luke Gates since the presentation of the petition to the Tupuna Maunga Authority.
Since presenting the petition to restore the cross/star on Mt Roskill’s summit to the Tupuna Maunga Authority (TMA) on behalf of over 4,000 Aucklanders on 6 May, we have been working to maintain momentum and to be listened to by the Authority.
The support from the wider community on this issue has been massively encouraging. We’ve had people sending spontaneous messages of support on all platforms. Many of these comments have related to people’s personal memories or insights on what the cross/star on the summit has meant to them – recurring themes include how it is a symbol of community which binds Mt Roskill together, or is a reminder of ‘being home’. Many new immigrants to the area associated the cross/star with their initial arrival in our community and this association has endured ever since. And, of course, for many it is a comforting symbol conveying hope, redemption, and goodwill. Local Maori families who live in Mt Roskill also do not agree with the stance of the Maunga Authority.
This is the sentiment which we reflected to the members of the Maunga Authority when we gave a submission during the public forum section of their meeting.
We were frustrated and rather disappointed when we were told by the chairman, Paul Majurey, that there was little prospect of the cross returning to the summit in the same way as it has in the last 60 years. Indeed, to ensure this, the Authority last year quietly removed all the supporting infrastructure from the summit on which the cross/star depends to function.
What is the Authority’s issue with a cross/star being on a summit for a few weeks? This issue goes back six years to the Treaty settlement which transferred the ownership of Auckland’s summits from the council to an iwi collective. The new premise is that all mountains must eventually conform to tikanga Maori, and accordingly the tihi (summits) must be cleared of anything which violates their tapu (sacredness).
The TMA takes this view very seriously. They are very determined to make sure that eventually, all of Auckland’s summits are plain, grassy areas free of any man-made structures. Accordingly, they have been extremely resistant to our community’s request to restore our cross/star.
We met with the Mt Roskill Ministers’ Association, who own and run the cross tradition, to bring this issue to the attention of Michael Wood MP on 24 May, raising concerns over the democratic deficit inherent in the TMA’s framework. Mr Wood was averse to the suggestion that the Treaty legislation should be revisited, and suggested we go back to the Authority and continue to negotiate.
So, we will. We are open to respectful, inclusive dialogue with the Authority and any other party, and hope that at the same time there is respect for the people of Mt Roskill and our legitimate wishes. To this end, we are pursuing a potential hui which would include the Authority, the Ministers’ Association, Michael Wood, and the Mayor Phil Goff; which we hope will be able break through the deadlock and find a workable solution which will return this beloved symbol to Auckland’s horizon.