A young Bay of Plenty couple say they could be out on the street after being given less than a week's notice by a Māori trust to leave a "cherished" family home of 40 years.
Aaron Pascoe, his pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter have until midday today to leave the coastal home in idyllic Little Waihi, east of Tauranga, after being served a trespass notice by Te Arawa Lakes Trust.
Pascoe's grandparents, Kenneth and Hunakiwhangara Broughton, bought the home in 1979, while also agreeing to lease the land the house sits on from Te Arawa.
They say they kept up to date with their leasehold payments until last year, when Hunakiwhangara passed away in March after her husband earlier died in 2009.
The family now want to keep the property. They claim the lease expires in 2023 and that they offered to continue making payments, but Te Arawa refused and instead issued them with a trespass notice this week.
A Te Arawa spokesperson said they couldn't comment on the case out of respect for the "privacy of the whānau involved".
Bernadette Pascoe - the daughter of the Broughtons and mother of Aaron Pascoe - said Te Arawa's actions had left her distraught at her son's plight and the loss of the family home.
"I'm very worried my son and his children will be put out on the street," she said.
"We wanted to keep the place as a family home. It's an older home but to us it's our home."
Pascoe said her case brought up wider concerns about leasehold land and how it could leave families vulnerable.
She said the home was on a picturesque peninsula with water lapping at the front and back of the property.
"It is the most soughtafter land in the Bay of Plenty," she said.
"It would be unaffordable if that land was ever put on the market for sale."
She said her parents were lucky on the one hand to have been able to buy the home on leased Māori land because they wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise.
Her son Aaron had also spent much of his childhood fishing for snapper in the nearby waters.
But since the death of her parents, Pascoe said the communication from Te Arawa about what was to happen next with the land had been "appalling".
She claimed the trust had given no clear direction about how her family could continue with the lease and no clear instruction that they had to leave until her son was hit with a trespass notice this week.
Pascoe said even tenants in rental homes were given 90 days' warning, while her family had been on the property for 40 years and now ordered out at short notice.
The short notice also did not give the family time to pack up 40 years of possessions and treasured items in the home, she said.
"If they were to say we will give you 90 days' notice in writing then maybe we could actually plan for having to vacate," Pascoe said.
"[But] it would be under duress because we still feel we own the property."
It comes after some Little Waihi residents were earlier embroiled in an eviction spat with the Te Arawa trust in 2010.
At least 29 homeowners at the time were initially told they would have to leave the area because of concerns that wastewater systems in their baches were causing serious environmental damage to the estuary.
Residents at the time criticised the "cold and callous" way the eviction notices were delivered, and the lack of consultation.