An occupation at Kaitaia Airport continues today after a group of Ngāti Kahu set up a make shift camp there yesterday in protest of a $100 million treaty settlement due to be ratified at Parliament today.
Those in the group have called for a meeting with Treaty Settlements Minister Chris Finlayson claiming he hasn't acknowledged Ngāti Kahu as mana whenua.
The third reading of the Te Hiku settlement is set to take place which includes Ngāi Takoto, one of four iwi that land will be returned to.
According to a member of the protesting group, Anthony Housham,“They want to give it to someone else. If I stole your car and gave it to your neighbour would you be alright with that? I don't think so. So that's what we're basically doing. We're taking back what belongs to us.”
Police say two flights to and from the airport have been disrupted by the protest.
According to Anthony Housham, Ngāti Kahu is the only tribe in Te Hiku who are yet to settle their treaty claim and continue to challenge the Crown in the High Court.
Housham says, “He’s just giving any of our land to someone else because he doesn't like Ngāti Kahu because we won’t toe the line on what he wants done.”
Kaumatua Timoti Flavell also says, “We want the management of this land returned to us.”
According to Far North Area Commander Inspector Wendy Robilliard there are three flights a day to and from Kaitaia and they often carry medical staff and supplies and patients.
She says, “This protest has the potential to threaten the wellbeing of patients and other passengers should an emergency occur during an inbound flight.”
However protestors have responded saying they will not disrupt flights threatening the health of anyone or impacting on any kind of emergency.
Police iwi liaison officers have been speaking with the protestors which has remained peaceful since it began.
Te Kāea reporter Dean Nathan was with the group yesterday when they arrived at Kaitaia Airport.