Whakatane GC Land Claim
Whakatane Golf Club is a
long established club in the eastern bay of plenty and is surrounded by rich heritage and a long association with local iwi. Maori pa sites in the area date back to the first Polynesian settlements, estimated to have been around 1200 AD. According to Maori tradition Toi te Huatahi, later known as Toi Kairakau, landed at Whakatane, about AD 1150, in search of his grandson, Whatonga.
One of the local Maori sub tribes , Ngai Taiwhakaea, claim the land that the club was built on was originally confiscated in the 19th century and the tribe have wanted it back since.
"We're no longer going to sit silently. For a long time we just sat silently and just watched them playing golf and just let them play on our land," said Manukorihi Tarau, Ngai Taiwhakaea spokesman recently.
Whakatane Golf Club members then resolved to sell 16 hectares of the course. The sub-tribe argued it should get it for free because after confiscation, the land was taken again in the 1920s under the Public Works Act.
"They're no longer using it for that fact, I believe it should be coming back to our hapu," Mr Tarau said.
However, late last month there was a breakthrough when club members met to sort through the bids and to listen to the history.
"Yes, I think that the people felt that there was an injustice and that the meeting last night started to put some of that injustice to rights," said Bob Thompson of Whakatane Golf Club.
So the club struck a deal, with a Ngai Taiwhakaea land trust successfully bidding for the land, but the price paid has not been revealed.
Of course, it's not the first protest over a golf course. Eva Rickard's famous battle for the Raglan course in the 1970s set off the current Waitangi Treaty settlement process.
This time, around forty years later, Maori and Pakeha have been able to sort it out peacefully over the Whakatane land.
"It was nice to be able to work in harmony with our neighbours," Mr Thompson said.
Mr Tarau said: "We don't think we should be paying for land that belongs to us. But at the end of the day, the gesture from trustees to buy it for us, we support it."
But there's still a bump in the road to compromise. Protesters then began taking action over a related dispute, blocking access to land and a nearby beach.