The Ui Ariki, “generally speaking, are in support of chlorination,” says Tupuna Rakanui, Clerk of the Are Ariki.
They had been alerted to the fact that chlorine was already in drinking liquids such as Vaiora and bottled water, said Rakanui, and that chlorinated water was acceptable and widely used overseas.
“The Ui Ariki need to be convinced otherwise that chlorine is unsafe to be used to treat our water,” he said.
There were discussions about what effects chlorine would have on food crops and drinking water. “The bottom line is we need quality water and a sufficient supply,” said Rakanui.
The Ui Ariki called in at the Turangi water treatment location last Thursday, and held discussions soon after.
Brent Manning, chief executive of To Tatou Vai, said the purpose of the site visit and meeting was to better inform the Ui Ariki, in order for them to reach an informed view on the desired future water quality.
“Our local staff are ready and motivated to operate the new infrastructure being built under the Te Mato Vai project, and to provide clean safe drinking water to the standard ultimately to be determined as appropriate for Rarotonga,” said Manning.
“Meantime our staff are training in preparation for what will be a significantly improved treatment process, and are busy finding and fixing leaks in the existing pipe network.”
The Ui Ariki had met once with the community group Te Vai Ora, who were opposed to the chlorination of water.
Anna Rasmussen, chairperson of Te Vai Ora, said they would have loved to have the opportunity to consult and discuss with the Ui Ariki why they opposed the chlorination of our water. “We are not against clean water; we are against chemicals in our water.”
Rasmussen believed government was following Western thinking. “Government is incorrect, and they are disinfecting the entire water system.”
Government just bulldozed this chlorination project through, she said. “It’s heartfelt, we are speaking from the heart, we are where the world wants to be right now, and now we have this chemical.”
“Water and air are two things that need to be free – it’s tapu.”