Maori landholders are carrying a portable eftpos machine to charge motorists for the removal of clamps from their cars at a popular beach.
But an intermediate school principal who had to pay $800 to the "renegade" group of Matauri Bay residents to free cars from wheel clamps on a school trip will get the money back after police were called in to investigate.
Kamo Intermediate School principal John Smith paid $800 to free four cars clamped when students recently went to Matauri Bay for a surfing lesson.
A group calling itself Ngati Kura Inc clamped the cars and turned up with a portable eftpos machine for Smith to pay the money.
Matauri X, the incorporation that administers Maori-owned land at Matauri Bay, said Ngati Kura Inc was a renegade band of hapu members with no authority to impose wheel-clamping in the area.
Maori Land Court-appointed administrator of Matauri X, Kevin Gillespie, said the hapu group would get the money back for Smith and had removed the clamping signs from the bay.
"We are going to do something about it and we are aware that there is a minority [of hapu members] that are causing problems," Gillespie said.
People were welcome to visit Matauri Bay without fear of being wheel-clamped, he said.
Smith said he lodged a complaint over the clamping with Kaeo police and was delighted at news that he might get the money back.
He said the affair had left a sour taste for the school and its parents. "Matauri X is on our side and trying to get the money back from the other group - we have been caught in the middle of their dispute," Smith said.
He said the school needed every cent of funding and welcomed getting the $800 back.
Ngati Kura Inc is believed to involve a small group of Ngati Kura kaumatua and kuia opposed to Matauri X selling sections on a subdivision designed to save the incorporation from financial ruin.
The then board of Matauri X - under then chairman Hemi Rua Rapata - borrowed $2.5 million from finance company Bridgecorp without the approval of shareholders in 2001 to invest into a water-bottling company.
The company went bust and the debt ballooned to more than $20 million because of penalties.
The landowners were then forced to subdivide some of their 500ha at Matauri Bay, or face financial ruin.By Mike Dinsdale