Judge says baches must be removed

By Imran Ali

A court has ordered that baches built on land owned by a Maori trust bordering the Kaipara Harbour be removed.

Henry Kemp, a trustee for the Pouto Topu A Trust, applied to the Maori Land Court in Whangarei to have the baches, built by beneficial owners and non-owners dating back to the early 1970s, removed from Oneroa, Tehakono and Kotiroreka bays.

The trust's concerns are that the baches were built without its permission, there has been no system of allocation of areas, they interfere with its farm and do not comply with Kaipara District Council laws.

Judge David Ambler said none of the bach occupiers claimed the trust had granted them a right to occupy the land.

In his decision, Judge Ambler said some of the occupiers asserted a right to occupy because it was papakainga or home ground dating back to the early 20th century, some claimed kaumatua and owners gave them permission while others simply said they have been allowed to build.

The trust obtained a report from the council that confirmed none of the baches was legal and they did not have building consents.

Max Connelly said at a hearing that the father of a current trustee gave his blessing for him to build a bach about 1985 but Judge Ambler said any permission granted to him could be revoked by the trust.

Another bach owner Carol Martin - whose family are not beneficial owners and have no ancestral connection to the land - relied on the fact that his family had been camping on the land and using their bach for many years.

Judge Ambler said the law was clear in that the trust, as an ahu whenua trust, had all the rights as legal owners of the land.

"Overall, I do not consider that an injunction would be oppressive as the occupiers built the baches as temporary holiday accommodation, without permission and in the knowledge that at some stage, they may be required to remove them," the judge said.

"The trust's approach has been reasonable throughout, and the fact that the trust is looking to provide camping facilities for its beneficial owners and their whanau is clear evidence of that."

Judge Ambler has ordered non-owners to remove their baches before March 1next year and beneficial owners to do the same by April 1, 2013.

- Northern Advocate

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