Waitara Land Bill reaches milestone

By Tema Hemi
  • North Island: West Coast

The Waitara Lands Act reached a milestone today when a side agreement was signed between the Ngāti Manukorihi and Ngāti Otaraua sub-tribes, and the New Plymouth District Council. The agreement sets a framework for how the NPDC and Te Kōwhatu Tū Moana Trust will work together on a brighter future for the residents of Waitara.  

The people of Waitara have long fought to have their special day in the sun and under the watchful eye of their ancestor. The Act opens leasehold land for purchase at 770 Waitara properties valued at about $90 million. The bill was first introduced to Parliament in September 2016, will use about 60 hectares of land to be given back to Te Ātiawa but in the updated bill, hapū are set to directly benefit instead. The bill will go into law from next week.

Te Kōwhatu Tū Moana trustee member Rawiri Doorbar says, "So today we've culminated in several royal commissions that have found we done nothing wrong. It culminated in several settlements over the years and we've had a Te Āti Awa settlement recently and none of them provided justice, none of them provided any tangible or real land whenua being returned. So for our collective for Manukorihi hapu and Otaraua hapu, we need to provide a place for our people to live moving into the future. Most of our whānau are renters and this land is being sold off from them. 

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom says, "Funds come into NPDC as the administrator of these leases, some of it is leasehold income. And as lease'es exercise their right to freehold and then we pass funds through to the trust.   

Local National MP Jonathan says, "What this sets in place is a pathway forward out of so many years of grievance and pain and loss. So this is a foundation to build a future for particularly the two hapu but also the people of Waitara as a whole."