The territory in question includes the Whakarewarewa Village and the Pohutu Geyser.
Thousands flock to the area to behold the iconic scenes at Whakarewarewa Village. However the question of who owns the land is being debated before an independent arbitration panel.
Ka Wairangi of Tūhourangi and Ngāti Wāhiao descent says they are seeking an answer to simple question, “who owns the land, Ngāti Whakaue or us?”
Ngāti Whakaue and Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao all have an interest in the land in question. According to one representative, it'll only be sorted through in-depth discussion.
Mauriora Kingi of Te Arawa says,“the subtribes bringing this issue forward today come from one branch.The same ancestors, the same genealogy,so they should hopefully be on the same page.”
The focus of of the mana whenua claim is the geyser known as Pohutu by Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao.
However, Ngāti Whakaue also has history pertaining to the area and Mr Kingi says “the lands and surrounding areas are the issue.Ngäti Wähiao is arguing one thing, and Ngäti Whakaue disagrees.”
This independent hearing is a last bid for harmony between the factions.
Reporter: Mere McLean.