Editorial: Intrigue at Kidnappers land claim


Hawke's Bay will watch with real interest the progress of the claim by Maori to 130ha of land owned by American billionaire Julian Robertson at Cape Kidnappers.
In the scheme of things it is not a massive tract of land but present-day title does say it belongs to Mr Robertson, so deliberations by the Maori Land Court and any negotiated settlement, should the court decide there is a need for one, may not be plain-sailing.
The primary basis for the claim by Ngati Hawea is that the block of land, known as Rangaika, was set aside 155 years ago as a native reserve. Ngati Hawea also say the land is an important burial ground.
The claim has been lodged by Hastings man John Moananui, a direct male descendant of 19th century chief Whakato.
The claimants say the current title still shows that the land known as Rangaika is reserve and they hope for an outcome that will see it placed into a trust administered by the Maori Land Court or a statutory trust.
If Mr Moananui is successful there will clearly have to be some sort of negotiation between the Crown and Mr Robertson who may or may not be willing to see part of his private estate carved off.
With nearly a quarter of the Hawke's Bay population identifying as Maori and significant Treaty claims pending, interest in this test of current deed of title held by an individual will be high.
There is cause for optimism whatever the outcome.
Maori are generally held to be great caretakers of land, a role they take extremely seriously and which in most cases protects against abuse through inappropriate development.

And Mr Robertson has proved himself a careful steward of the land he has chosen not to develop at Cape Kidnappers. There are not many New Zealanders with the resources or the inclination to do what he has done in regenerating the flora and fauna around the Cape.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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