The Te Pohue community was last night assured they would retain access to much-used Domain land, even if it was transferred into the ownership of local Maori as part settlement of a Treaty of Waitangi claim.
The community had been concerned that the Te Pohue and Upper Mohaka Domains were being used as "pawns" in the settlement process, a local resident told Hawke's Bay Today prior to the meeting at the Te Pohue Golf Club attended by the Crown, the Maori claimant, the Hastings District Council and residents.
But at the completion of the meeting, called by the HDC, there was an unofficial resolution.
HDC Mohaka ward councillor Tania Kerr said, "A show of hands gave a positive response to transferring the land to Maungaharuru Tangitu Inc (MTI), with a deed of settlement reflecting all the current conditions stay the same."
There was agreement that "Reserve" status would be retained "which safeguards use of the land forever", Ms Kerr said.
Earlier Maungaharuru Tangitu Inc (MTI) negotiator Tania Hopmans proposed joint management of the reserve with community activities continuing unaffected.
"Our expectation is that community use will continue," she said.
After Chief Crown negotiator Paul Swain told the assembled crowd of about 65 that the claim had been proven, Ms Hopmans outlined a history of many disputed land sales and unjust land confiscations.
"The irony is we are tangata whenua without any land," she said.
Mr Swain said Esk Forest land could only be a commercial part of the claim redress, whereas the community land was the only land suitable for a cultural redress.
"We are here trying to work out how to settle it in a manner that is acceptable to both parties," he said.
Te Pohue Domain Board member Duane Olsen reading from a prepared statement, said, "We understand the Maungaharuru Tangitu have relevant claim settlements to resolve with the Crown for past wrong doings," he said.
"We acknowledge their grievances and sympathise with them. We also recognise that the crown has obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi Act to make claims settlements.
"However, we do not believe that using the Domain land as a settlement redress is suitable or correct."
He said if the community were to lose the domains it would create another grievance, adding that if Maungaharuru Tangitu lived in the Te Pohue district they would already be joint owners, "as are the rest of us".
"We would welcome you to erect a Pou and place some Maori history plaques at the domain if you so choose, and in fact, we would encourage you to.
"It is part of all our collective history."
There were other properties that would be more appropriate for a settlement, he said.
Upper Mohaka Domain, on the Taupo side of the Mohaka River beside the bridge is grazed by Tarawera Station, owned by the same Maori Trust that recently bought Gwavas Station in Tikikino.
The annual rodeo is held there.
Te Pohue Domain is on Ohurakura Rd, 200m from SH5. On it is the Te Pohue Community Hall, with grounds maintained by volunteers. Inside is the roll of honour of those who died in both world wars.
Maungaharuru Tangitu started its claim process in 1992.