More than one hundred descendants of Ngāi Taiwhakaea hapū of Ngāti Awa gathered in a peaceful protest as shareholders from the Whakatāne Golf Club vote to sell a piece of their land which was originally occupied by local Māori before the land wars.
Shareholders avoided the blockade of mana whenua as they arrived on time for a general meeting where they’ll consider offers for the sale of land owned by the club.
Taiwhakaea Marae Chairperson, Manukorihi Tarau says, “We’ve got two strategies, one is to actually, that through our hapū that are here today and that’s to protest against the sale. The other one is to obtain the money from our lands trusts to purchase the land.”
Ngāi Taiwhakaea says they were informed about the sale of the land through a member of their sub-tribe. The hapū then approached the Whakatāne Golf Club so a sale offer of 16 hectares could be made to them from the northern boundary of the club.
Te Pāroa Lands Trust Chairperson, Stan Ratahi says, “Now our kids will understand the importance with our lands, and that they must realize not to sell.”
The hapū says, the Whakatāne District Council wants to develop the Northern boundary of the block into a subdivision. The hapū also say, this road that links onto the northern boundary is proclaimed Taiwhakaea land.
In a statement to Te Kāea a council spokesperson said the section of the road under dispute shows up in their records as Council road. The spokesperson also said they will investigate the background to who owns the land, but that could take some time.
“We knew they were going to sell it amongst themselves or potentially be sold off to develop a subdivision.”
Bob Thompson says there were three potential buyers for the 16 hectares of land however after much dispute, Whakatāne Golf Club chairman finally confirmed that Ngāi Taiwhakaea hapū have won the bid to buy the land back.
Mr. Thompson says, “Yes, we did receive an offer from them which we accepted. I really don’t want to disclose the money because I don’t think that it’s politics to do so.”
“It’s been in their possession for thousands of years and through government miss-management, they lost it and they have taken the opportunity to buy it back and I am more than happy to see it go to where its wanted.”
Meanwhile, a trustee member from Taiwhakaea Marae, Te Auhi Wahapango spoke up at a meeting amongst its descendants.
He said, “Why should we pay? But after thinking about it, if we don’t buy it, somebody else is going to buy it.”