National | Kelvin Davis

Ngāti Kahu says one hectare of land down, nineteen thousand to get back

Māhiatai in Taipā holds special significance for Ngāti Kahu.

As Wīkātana Pōpata says, "Māhiatai te whenua, Ikatiritiri te awa, Tokerau te moana, Ngāti Kahu te iwi".

Ngāti Kahu has, for the past six weeks, occupied the land in Taipā. Over the weekend, Treaty Settlements Minister Andrew Little and Crown-Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis arrived at the site to confirm the land had been bought by the Crown and was on track to being returned to the iwi. It will cost the government a reported $1.5m to buy the 0.8-hectare property.

Using land occupation to force the government to buy back private land for Treaty settlements to iwi has been a strategy that has worked well recently.

In 2020, the Government returned Porotī Springs to Whangārei iwi and Ihumātao to iwi in Auckland.

'Be brasher'

Wī Kātana says it was important for his iwi to get this bit of land returned.

"One part of the plan to protect Ngāti Kahu's land for future generations has been accomplished."

The 0.8-hectare property is on the banks of the Taipa River and is just metres from a popular Northland beach. Ngāti Kahu says the area is the first landing site of Kupe in Aotearoa. Kelly Corrigan of Ngāti Kahu advises other iwi thinking of occupying land that  the iwi must remain united.

"We just put aside any other dynamics that might normally come into a hapū space, a whānau space, and purely all work together to ensure that that whenua came back to Ngāti Kahu."

Wīkātana says Māori need to be brasher in claiming land they believe belongs to them. "If you believe that that land belongs to you, you should stand as a guardian of your land so that everyone knows, whether it be the government, Pākehā, whoever, that that is your land."