A lack of cultural protocol has insulted the Koori community and Darug elders of Blacktown.
By
Tara Callinan

Source:
NITV News
11 Feb 2014 - 3:26 PM  UPDATED 12 Feb 2014 - 5:35 PM

The Blacktown City Council has commissioned the construction of two, four-metre-high Maori carved poles to be placed in Nurragingy Reserve this May.

The carvings will commemorate Blacktown's 30 year anniversary as a sister city of Porirua in New Zealand’s north Island.

But Darug elder Sandra Lee said traditional owners had not been consulted by the council or the Maori community prior to this decision being made.

"Would the Maoris like me to go over to New Zealand and hang ring-tail possums all over the place? Or kangaroos?  No they wouldn't, I know they wouldn't, so why are they doing it to us?" she said

The Nurragingy land grant was awarded in 1816, and was the first land ever granted to an Aboriginal person on the continent of Australia.

But in 2012, the Blacktown City Council declared that the Darug people had no legitimate claims to the land.

Ms Lee said situating the poles at the front gate would diminish the Aboriginal symbolism of Nurragingy and continue the ongoing genocide of her people.

"I'll stand there and I'll burn them down if I have too," she said. "They can put them anywhere inside, no worries - but not at the gate."

Maori leaders were calling for the respect of Australia's first nation's people at Waitangi Day celebrations in West Sydney over the weekend.

Chairman of the Waitangi Day Festival, Kiri Barber, said his people were disheartened to hear of the lack of consultation undertaken by the council.

He believed the only solution is to abstain from endorsing these poles “until the proper consultation and the tangata whenua themselves have agreed to allow us to stand [the] poupou [carved poles] up."

In response, a statement issued by the Blacktown City Council said the gateway will be placed within the New Zealand South Pacific Garden in the Nurragingy reserve, not at the entry point.