Road-spraying 'releases spirits'
04 December 2006

A police-led initiative of spraying water on state highways to release the trapped spirits of those killed in motor crashes has been declared a success.

Yesterday a special police convoy carrying Maori elders sprayed 10,000 litres of Waikato River water on SH1 and SH2 in a bid to free the spirits of crash victims.

Dick Waihi, iwi liaison officer for the Counties-Manukau police district, today said the operation had been successful. "About 35 people turned up to support us," Mr Waihi said. "It was very successful. It was a first for the country and we have had some really good feedback."

Maori elders consider the combination of blessed river water and prayers to be a trigger for the release of the spirits of those trapped by violent deaths on the roads. Water was pumped from the Waikato River into a tanker at Tuakau by the New Zealand Fire Service.

From 5.30am the convoy drove south from Mt Wellington to Mercer on SH1, and then along SH2 to Maramarua. The ceremonial spraying was interrupted at Mercer and Maramarua, where a karakia was performed.

Mr Waihi said the 2?-hour exercise was cost-free, with people donating labour and resources.

Despite the prayers, Mr Waihi said the exercise was non-religious and not just for Maori fatalities. "Some people don't have an understanding why we are doing it. They should find out more about Maori protocols before making comment."

Waikato road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman had no problems with the initiative.

"Anything that helps is worthwhile, isn't it?"

- The Waikato Times