Ruakākā Raceway proposal could upset return of Patuharakeke iwi land

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

Its land was taken for the purposes of electricity production.

The Ruakākā Raceway is yet another prime example, some say, of Crown action to further alienate Māori from their lands.

Last week, the matter was presented to the Waitangi Tribunal while Patuharakeke iwi remain adamant that their lands be returned. 

The iwi say that a proposed change to the district plan to allow major development on the Ruakākā racecourse will shut the door on their quest to have their lands returned.

Luana Pirihi says there is a private plan brewing to develop the land into an equine centre, with related businesses plus about a 350 residential subdivision.

The land was taken for the purposes of electricity production, and in 1991, the Crown sold the 56ha of prime real estate to the Whangarei Horse Racing Club for a pittance.

Ms Pirihi claims that the chairman at the time was also the chairperson of the racing club at Ruakākā.

The Ruakākā raceway is a prime example of how the Crown and Council have collaborated to alienate Māori in this district from their lands. 

Patuharakeke say that approval to the proposed plan change allowing the development will signal yet another injustice.

Apart from seeking High Court action, it seems the Whangarei District Council will have the final say on the matter.