Re-possession not occupation – Hauraki Maori
By Reon Suddaby – Waikato Times
February 27, 2007
Protesters occupying a 1100ha block of Crown-owned Coromandel Peninsula land say they will stay as long as it takes to get back what they see as rightfully theirs.
The group of Hauraki Maori moved on to Whenuakite Station, between Whitianga and Tairua, on Sunday morning.
Ngati Hei spokesman Joe Davis said the land should be handed back to Hauraki Maori as part of their Treaty of Waitangi settlement deal.
“It’s a repossession, not an occupation,” Mr Davis said.
“We’re now saying, no, we’ve had enough of Maori land being sold to private individuals and developers. The land should be returned as part of our redress.
“We’re here to state that to our ministers and to the Office of Treaty Settlements – they need to reassess their position.”
The land, estimated to be worth more than $10 million, is in the final stages of being sold. Tenders for the land, which includes views of Whitianga Harbour, Hot Water Beach and Cooks Beach, closed on February 13.
Government entity Landcorp was expected to choose the successful bidder this week.
Hauraki Maori had lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal and were expected to lodge a court injunction to stop the sale.
Mr Davis said about 150 people had visited the protest site, made up of tents, awnings and a makeshift marae.
He said Maori land being sold was not unique to the peninsula.
“It’s extremely important to all iwi. It’s not just peculiar to here.”
A hui held at Whenuakite Station last night attracted about 50 people to discuss the future of the occupation.
Mr Davis said there was a consensus the occupation would continue as long as it was needed.
Today Ngati Hei would meet with Tainui representatives and Hauraki iwi at 10am to discuss a regional strategy.
Mr Davis said it was not just Maori opposed to the sale of the land, and the group planned to do all it could to stop it.
“We’re going to exhaust all avenues and take this as far as we can.
“We’re going to remain very optimistic, we’re not here to attack the Crown in any way. We’re being very pro-Maori,” he said.
Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly earlier said it had offered the land in question to the Office of Treaty Settlements, but the offer was rejected.
A caveat would be placed on the sale warning purchasers the Government could buy back the land for a future treaty settlement.
A Waitangi Tribunal report into the Hauraki claim last year found the tribe was due restitution after being marginalised by the transfer of resources and land to others.
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