Who owns Motukawaiti Island?

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

Who owns Motukawaiti Island? That's one of the big question the Te Tai Tokerau MP is asking the government after it was sold to an international investor over five years ago.  To this day details of the sale are unclear. 

Out past the island are the groper and marlin fishing grounds.

Motukawaiti is currently for sale online for $12 million but whether the sale to the current owner followed the proper process for an international investor remains unclear.

Dover Samuels says, “We would sleep there and go fishing. If it storms we would stay on the island until the sea calms and then come home and that's how close the local hapū are to Motukawaiti, it's our treasure.”

This week the Te Tai Tokerau MP issued a line of questions on this matter to the minister in charge of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

Kelvin Davis says, “Currently we don't even know who owns it now and I'm questioning whether the sale of the island followed the correct process, so that we finally know whether the sale to a Chinese investor was legal.”

It's as though the company that brought the island is only a face for the buyer whose identity remains unknown and five years later the government's investigation has been fruitless with the Te Tai Tokerau MP not holding his breathing waiting for answers.

“Ngāti Kura have waited five years with baited breath, so they may die before knowing the truth. I'm focussed on assisting Ngāti Kura in the return of the island,” says Davis.

“At this stage, I think the government needs to look seriously to return the island to us through our treaty claims,” says Samuels.

The hope is that we shall soon know who the legal owner of Motukawaiti is.