The fuse continues to burn on an unresolved 150-year-old land grievance that climaxed in a dramatic confrontation between Maori activists and police in 1987.

Peri Kohu, a Ngai Tamarawaho kaumatua, said there had been no resolution to the grievance centred on Lot 45 - the site of the former Town Hall that now included the city library.

There has never been a will to resolve it," he said.

He was one of the protesters who occupied Tauranga's former Town Hall for two-and-a-half days in 1987 following community opposition to the plan to demolish the building.

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The 30th anniversary of the occupation by members of Ngai Tamarawaho will be commemorated on Saturday as part of the hapu's ongoing protests over land grievances.

Elders leave Tauranga's former Town Hall a few minutes before the confrontation between police and Maori warriors in 1987. Photo/supplied
Elders leave Tauranga's former Town Hall a few minutes before the confrontation between police and Maori warriors in 1987. Photo/supplied

Anniversary organiser Buddy Mikaere said the basis for the protest was the question of what happened to the property after it was acquired by the Church Missionary Society for the welfare and advancement of Maori.

Mr Mikaere said it was still a live issue and investigations into the current legal position were continuing.

Mr Kohu said Lot 45 was a survey reference used by the colonial Government to confiscate Maori land after the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga in 1864.

Lot 45 was originally purchased from Maori by the Church Missionary Society under the terms of a deed that said the land would be used for the benefit of iwi and the church. But after much pressure and protest, the land was given to the Crown in 1867.

Tauranga's former Town Hall daubed with protest messages on the day it was occupied by activists.
Tauranga's former Town Hall daubed with protest messages on the day it was occupied by activists.

The 22 activists who occupied the Town Hall were found guilty of trespass but their convictions were quashed on appeal to the High Court.

A year after the 1987 occupation, five men barricaded themselves into the new library after the High Court refused a to issue a restraining order to prevent development of the site. It led to more violent confrontations with police.

Mr Kohu said the upshot of the second occupation was an agreement between the hapu and the council to take the heat out of the situation, including the establishment of a joint working committee, a pledge to work together for a speedy resolution to raupatu (confiscation) claims, and a pledge to achieve harmony and unity.

Mr Kohu said Ngai Tamarawaho now had a good relationship with the council but it still did not have a presence in the downtown where most of the tribe used to live.

Lot 45, a sizeable chunk of the civic block including the library in Tauranga's CBD.
Lot 45, a sizeable chunk of the civic block including the library in Tauranga's CBD.

Council chief executive Garry Poole said the council had recently initiated an investigation into Lot 45.

''Until that is completed, we are not able to respond to your [Bay of Plenty Times] questions,'' he said.

Mr Poole said the occupation had been a significant event in Tauranga's recent history. ''We value and respect our relationship with Ngai Tamarawaho.''

Lot 45 of Tauranga's Civic Block
Area: 5185 square metres
Status: Local Purpose (municipal buildings) Reserve
Buildings: Part of Baycourt and all the library and newer buildings.