Aupōuri Ngāti Kahu Te Rarawa (ANT) Trust CEO Hone Harawira expects the issue that has prompted the occupation of 11ha of land at Waimanoni (Protecting — not protesting, November 5), to be resolved quickly, but has disputed some of the views expressed by the occupiers.
"Some of the locals are upset about the trust buying a block of land," Mr Harawira said. "I was offered the opportunity to buy it about three years ago. I took the offer straight back to Ngaitakoto CEO Rangitane Marsden, but he didn't follow through on it. Over the next few months I tried a number of times to get him to buy it, but nada. So, two and a half years later, when we heard outsiders were interested in it, I got ANT to buy it.
"Happy to let 'mana whenua' get first shot at it, but when they've got millions of dollars and they do nothing for years, and outsiders start snooping around, what does a man do?"
Mr Harawira noted the land had not been in mana whenua hands for a very long time. The trust had bought it off somebody who wasn't mana whenua, as had numerous purchasers before that, over more than a century.
"Mana whenua have had 100 years to buy this land back, and for whatever reason, they didn't," he said.
The trust had also been criticised as not representing Ngaitakoto, but Matire Dick, who lived immediately across the road from the occupation, and helped establish the trust in 1985, had been so "so mana whenua" that she had been known as the Queen of Ngaitakoto.
Meanwhile, the trust had planted gardens immediately next to the occupation. It had run a Whakapakari Tangata course at Waimanoni, along with wānanga reo, kapa haka, youth development courses and many other hui at Waimanoni Marae over the years. It had also funded two renovation programmes at the marae over that time.
"A lot of the young ones don't know any of this history, but there you go," Mr Harawira said.
"The trustees of both the marae and ANT want this settled amicably, and soon, and Shorty Murray and I have been told to stitch together a deal. We're not fussed about those camping where they are until this is all sorted out, and we hope to get that done soon."