A Whangarei hapu wants to halt the sale of Marsden Pt land it has a Treaty of Waitangi claim over and wants it land banked by the Government until its claim is settled.
Government-owned Mighty River Power - which was given the land, some of which contained the now-removed Marsden A and B power stations in the power reforms of the early 1990s - is selling the land as surplus to requirements.
Prue Kapua, a lawyer representing Whangarei hapu Patuharakeke, said the tribe wanted the disputed sections put in a land bank by the Office of Treaty Settlement (OTS) until its treaty claims were settled. She said the land in dispute was taken under the Public Works Act for power generation purposes and was no longer needed, so the hapu wanted it back.
Ms Kapua said the blocks that had contained the old power stations were among the few land blocks in the area not in private ownership that could possibly be returned to the hapu, which now had virtually no land after it was taken by previous Governments.
The hapu's only asset is a small piece of land around its Takahiwai Marae.
The disputed sections have Section 27b memorials on them - a status applying to sites around New Zealand that could potentially be returned or compensated for in treaty settlements. Mighty River Power says those memorials would remain even if the land was sold.
The company said it had kept Patuharakeke and Ngatiwai up to date about its plans to sell the combined 166ha of land.
Ms Kapua said the hapu might ask for urgent court action to block the sale until its claim is resolved.
"Part of the purpose of the memorials is to give people notice that there is an issue with that land. But once it goes into private ownership - and the (Waitangi) Tribunal won't make an order to return private land - it will be alienated forever and Patuharakeke will not have the money to afford to buy it at whatever the market value is," she said. "At the moment it's still got the Crown's hands over it so we'd like to see OTS take this land and land bank it to then be offered back (to the hapu) as part of its Treaty of Waitangi settlement." She said the hapu would use the land to establish an economic base and help to provide for hapu members.
"Almost all of Patuharakeke's land has been taken and most is now lost. That has a deeply psychological effect on them and this really is an issue of fairness." The OTS did not respond to the hapu's concerns by edition time.
The sale is being marketed by Colliers International which says of the sites:
Develop or hold for future opportunities. Mix of coastal property and farmland, one tenanted house - existing holding income from grazing on parts. On main route to Marsden Pt refinery and Northland Port.
This is your chance to secure a large Business 2 and 4 zoned land holding spread over multiple titles or select one or more of the individual parcels. Land bank, farm, or develop now to capitalise on Marsden Pt's growth.
The land includes the 40ha (approx) former Marsden power station site, now cleared of improvements, and directly adjoining beach front, over a DoC reserve, of over 600m.
Potential sea water intake rights available if required.
The sales pitch does not mention the Section 27b memorials on the sites.