National | Whenua

Airfield returned after council vote

After nearly 100 years in regional government and Defence Force hands, the airfield at Raglan will be returned to Māori.

The 36 hectares were requisitioned by the Air Force in the lead-up to World War II on February 1936, but instead of being returned to Māori, it was handed over to the Raglan council in 1969.

Waikato District Council mayor Allan Sanson says unanimous agreement to return the whenua, which will see the historic injustice addressed, was reached at a council meeting last week.

“It’s given us a chance to tidy up another piece of our history, and it confirms a shift in direction for us in this area,” Sanson said.

The peninsula whenua adjoins the site of the urupā which was confiscated at the same time and later sold to the Raglan Golf Club.

Tainui rangatira Eva Rickards successfully campaigned for the return of the urupa during a high-profile occupation in the 1970s, that coincided with the protests at bastion point, and the 1975 land march led by Dame Whina Cooper.

The aerodrome was occupied earlier this year by protestors opposing the erection of a safety fence which meant access to the foreshore was blocked.

The fence came after a review that recommended upgrading safety but required people wanting to get to the moana to walk either side of the airport.

Stakeholders Ngāti Māhanga, Newton Whānau Trust & Papahua 1 and descendants of Te Kōpua Block / Tainui O Tainui are in discussions with council over whether the airfield should be retained.


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