Blacktown Aboriginal elder blasts council plan to put Maori poles into Nurragingy Reserve

Darug elder Sandra Lee will resign from Blacktown Council Aboriginal Advisory Sub-Committee as a protest over the lack of  consultation with her people on the installation of  two Maori carved poles in Nurragingy Reserve.

Ms Lee met with a delegation of Maori people from New Zealand who attended the Waitangi Day Festival in Merrylands last Tuesday.

She said she doesn’t object to their installation within the New Zealand South Pacific Garden in Nurragingy Reserve but Blacktown Council must consult with Darug elders first.

Blacktown Council commissioned the construction of two, four-metre-high carved poles — known as poupou — to be placed in Nurragingy Reserve this May to commemorate Blacktown’s 30 year anniversary as a sister city of Porirua in New Zealand’s north Island.

Ms Lee said festival chairman Kiri Barber told her his people were also disheartened to hear of the lack of consultation by the council.

‘‘After the meeting with 16 representatives including local leaders, I have contacted Porirua Council and am awaiting its response,’’ she said.

‘‘If all failed, I will ask our lawyers to place an injunction to prevent Blacktown Council for installing the poupou.’’

Mr Barber said his people were disheartened to hear of the lack of consultation undertaken by the council.

He believed the only solution was to abstain from endorsing the poles until proper consultation had been made.

In a letter to Ms Lee, mayor Len Robinson said: ‘‘As the poupou is to be placed in the New Zealand South Pacific Garden, no consultation with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stockholders has occurred on this occasion’’.

Blacktown Council’s action is supported by its 2012 declaration that the Darug people had no legitimate claims to the land.

Its spokeswoman has yet to respond to questions on the new development.

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