Hapu¯ support for Waitara lands bill
Hapu¯ have decided to back a draft law which will free up the sale of land once stolen from them by the Crown.
Otaraua and Manukorihi discussed the updated terms of the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill on Tuesday.
Yesterday, Patsy Bodger of Manukorihi hapu¯ said it had decided to back the bill.
‘‘We’re accepting the bill and we’re moving forward,’’ she said.
When the bill was first introduced in September, 2016, it faced widespread opposition, including from the hapu¯ .
But ongoing discussions between the groups and council resulted in a rewriting of the proposed legislation.
‘‘We have worked hard to get where we are,’’ Bodger said.
Amendments include the provisions for the hapu¯ by way of the creation of a multimillion-dollar land development fund, gifted parcels of land and co-governance roles with council. The council had since been informed of its position, Bodger said.
Bodger said the hapu¯ was still working through issues with the council but on the face of it, the revised terms of the bill provided it with new opportunities to buy and develop land along with the means to do restoration work on the Waitara river.
The main purpose of the bill is that it allows for 770 Waitara leasehold properties, which are currently valued at $90 million, to be purchased freehold at market value.
The whenua (land) at the heart of the draft legislation was originally confiscated in 1865 by the Crown from Te A¯ tiawa and the two hapu¯ .
If passed into law, the current leaseholders will have the option to purchase freehold their leased properties at market value.
This has been the major sticking point for those affected, as many have said they would not be able to afford to buy the land.
It is the money from the land sales which will be pumped directly into the land development fund and environmental projects.
This includes $28m over 20 years to assist the two hapu¯ to buy, manage or develop land in Waitara, along with a similar amount for other projects. Another $34m will also be tagged to Waitara River and other environmental initiatives.
The bill gifts 44 hectares of land to hapu¯ and the groups will also be given titles to parks and reserves, totalling 13ha in size, if they want them.
However, disaffected leaseholders are wanting progress on the bill to be postponed until the group’s concerns have been taken into account.
Bill Simpson launched a petition to garner community support and he said part of its strategy was to seek an opportunity to speak directly to Government MPs on the issue.
Simpson said there was ongoing opposition to the bill and there would be continued efforts to stall its progress.
With hapu¯ endorsement, the next step is for the bill to go back before council ahead of the planned third and final reading, which could happen at the end of November or next month.
A fund to ensure the health of the Waitara river has been mooted with the money from leasehold land sales.