It is now time for the Crown to return Kāpiti Coast Airport land to descendants of the original owners, a person with strong links to the land strongly believes.
With Kāpiti Coast Airport owners looking at all options for the land's future, Takiri Cotterill, from Paraparaumu, has stepped forward highlighting a long-running grievance.
Cotterill said her whānau had lived in the area for at least nine generations since their ancestors Ngāti Puketapu of the Te Atiawa iwi settled there from Taranaki in the 1820s.
"My grandmother was one of the original owners of the land which was taken in 1939, under the Public Works Act 1928, for an airport for defence purposes during World War II.
"At the cessation of the war, instead of returning the land, the Crown continued to hold the land for general airport uses.
"Our generations of whānau have each taken their turn to seek the return of airport land which is part of their Ngāti Puketapu hapū estate.
"In the 1990s our airport related whānau were blocked from buying back the airport along with other airport stakeholders.
"In February 2018 our whānau gave our evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal of the various prejudicial actions of the Crown which has resulted in the airport lands being transferred into the private ownership of a succession of land speculators who have seen the airport as land ripe for the plucking wanting only to divide it up into commercial and residential properties to sell off at an immense profit.
"The subsequent rezoning of the airport land by Kāpiti Coast District Council is helping consecutive private owners to whittle off our ancestral land for profits.
"It's time our people are given our long-due justice.
"The Crown must take the appropriate steps to return our ancestral land."
Cotterill said when Air New Zealand withdrew its service in 2018 the community response "was so heartening, not only to keep an air service operating but also to preserve this unique taonga [treasure] which is integral to Paraparaumu's identity".
"I believe our ancestral land has its own voice and heart and I continue to pray for it remaining intact and whole.
"Once again we are facing the possibility of losing our airport and access to our ancestral land.
"While supporting the airport stakeholders, and the continued sustainability of an operational airport, we are awaiting the tribunal's findings to be delivered on our claim which could include a statement on this land.
"Our greatest hope is for the return of this land and we ask the council to back our appeal to the government for the return of our ancestral land.
"We will then be in a position to work with our communities on a vision to benefit the district and our people.
"The worst thing for me would be if my grandchildren could not look upon their ancestral land, as they can now, but only hold a deep grievance that their lands were sold off for transitory profit of people who don't even live here."
Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan, who supported the iwi's claim to the Crown, said, "I welcome their offer, upon the return of the land, to work with the community to develop a vision that will prosper their people and our communities.
"I can understand that the Crown decision to sell their ancestral land into private hands in 1995, without offering it back to them, has deeply wounded tangata whenua.
"As a local journalist who covered the Māori land occupation at the airport following the sale I witnessed their angst and mounting grievance.
"About 30 of them were arrested for trespassing on their own ancestral land.
"I am also aware that council, as the consenting and regulatory authority subject to the RMA, had limited ability consider the land ownership claim.
"It was a matter for the Crown to address."
Gurunathan said it was encouraging, when Air New Zealand stopped its service out of the airport, to see the Puketapu hapu join airport stakeholders and the community to fight for continued air services and the preservation of an operational airport.
"Last year, I was at the Waitangi Tribunal hearing where the deep seated grievance over the systematic alienation of this ancestral land was aired.
"The tribunal's decision is still pending.
"I urge our airport stakeholders and our communities to join the call by mana whenua for the Crown to take all the necessary steps to return their ancestral land and finally deliver the long overdue justice and restore the mana of the original owners.
"As mayor, I welcome their magnanimous offer that upon its return they will 'be in a position to work with our communities on a vision to benefit the district and our people'."