Aboriginal elder opposes Maori poles

PLANS to place two four-metre high Maori poupou (carved poles) in Nurragingy Reserve have opened an old wound, says a Darug leader.

Blacktown Council has commissioned the poupou to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its sister city relationship with Porirua, New Zealand in May, this year.

They will be placed in the New Zealand South Pacific Garden gateway in Nurragingy Reserve.

Darug elder Sandra Lee said the council had displayed ignorance of traditional ownerships of the area with a lack of respect to her people.

"This is another of current council's act of deliberate aggression that continues the ongoing public genocide of the Darug people," she said.

"The Maori people know they are not allowed to put their totem poles in another tribal land. I find it strange they didn't seek the permission or blessing of our elders before proceeding.

Ms Lee said the poles could be put in the garden "if they ask for our permission".

She added that she could not get the council to put up a history board of Nurragingy on why the reserve was named after her Darug ancestor, or support for its bush tucker garden.

A council spokeswoman said the reserve had different cultural gardens, including an Aboriginal bush tucker garden, a Chinese garden, a New Zealand South Pacific garden and a sensory garden.

"Given the work was only being done within the New Zealand South Pacific Garden, no consultation with any other cultural groups was undertaken," she said.

"Council recognises the need to consult with community groups on a variety of issues affecting Blacktown City.

"It recently underwent an extensive consultation process with Aboriginal groups in the preparation required for the Native Institute Site Exhibition and the recent Local Government Aboriginal Network Conference.

"Council is also currently undergoing an extensive consultation process with the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation in the development of the Bush Tucker Garden at Grantham Heritage Park.

"Its Aboriginal advisory subcommittee, a group comprised of representatives of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, provide valuable input to the development of council's plans, programs and policies such as the Reconciliation Action Plan."

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