Regional | Justice

Taranaki hapū oppose council land sell off

Iwi and hapū of Taranaki took to the streets today in a peaceful protest in opposition to the New Plymouth District Council Waitara Lands Bill. If passed into law, it would mean the council could sell land originally belonging to Taranaki whānau, which whānau say was illegally confiscated by the crown more than a century ago.

Around 200 people took to the streets today as they continue to fight for the return of their lands after more than 150 years.

Hapu member Patsy Bodger told Te Kāea, “We're not giving up, our stance has always been about getting the land back.”

Manukorihi elder Ramon Te Hanataua says, “I am thankful to those who fought this fight for us in their day, so here we are today to carry that on by supporting this issue for our ancestors.”

This generation of descendants don't agree with the Waitara Lands Bill. If the bill passed into law, it means they will never see the return of their homelands.

The land, Pekapeka land block is 600 acres and hapū want it back but Council want to turn from leasehold into freehold. Land sales that would not see a single cent go to Māori.

Otaraua Hapu Chairman David Doorbar says, “This is a showing to ourselves and to our community that this isn't finished it doesn't matter what people say in Wellington it doesn't matter what minister say when they stand in front of TVs this is not finished.”

Leonie Pihama from Te Atiawa says, “The hearts and spirits of the hapū are alive. I see people from each hapū standing strong with their message to have the land returned.”

It's a land dispute that sparked the NZ Land Wars back in the 1860s when the Crown confiscated the land and later gifted it to local authorities where it has been leased ever since.