A bill that will settle one of New Zealand's longest running land disputes is set to pass its third reading in Parliament tomorrow.
The Waitara Lands Bill addresses a contentious land issue in Waitara in which hapū will finally get redress for land confiscated by the government from Te Ātiawa and its hapū in the 1860s.
After close to 30 years of talks and two previous attempts at a bill, the latest iteration of the bill settle issues with the Manukōrihi and Ōtaraua hapū.
New Plymouth District Council has said it is impossible to simply return the land to the hapū but they will receive a package of land, money and resources.
There are 770 leasehold properties on the land with a combined value of $90 million. Under the bill, leaseholders have an option to continue leasing or pay the market value to become freehold.
The package for hapū includes about $28 million from the property sales over 20 years for hapū to buy, manage or develop land in Waitara.
Another $28m will go to projects co-managed by hapū and the district council. A further $34m will be allocated to Waitara River and environment, to be co-governed by hapū, iwi and Taranaki Regional Council.
About 120ha of land, mostly as reserves, is available to hapū.
The bill includes a support package for leaseholders, including $50,000 for financial and budgeting advice.
But some leaseholders have been upset by the provisions of the bill, wanting the option to buy their land but objecting to having to pay market value.
National MP Jonathan Young, the Member for New Plymouth, took the local bill to Parliament in 2016.
He said that the bill was about to reach a conclusion was "absolutely amazing".
"The first bill of this type was introduced 25 years ago and this is the third iteration. It's to do with the confiscation of land called the Pekapeka Block in Waitara, which is where the Land Wars essentially started," Young said.
"It feels really significant. I think if there's a piece of legislation that you are privileged to be part of, this has got to be it."
Young said there had been a huge amount of work and willingness on all sides including Taranaki Regional Council, New Plymouth District Council, Te Ātiawa iwi and the two hapū involved.
"I'm confident the future of North Taranaki and Waitara is going to be quite amazing."
What the bill does
• Gifts 44ha of land to the hapū – 13ha of developed residential land and 31ha of reserve land
• The hapū will gain titles to parks and reserves totalling 13ha if they wish to take them
• The hapū also have the option to purchase five crown reserves totalling 26ha, to be co-governed with district council and allowing continued public access.
• Allows the hapū an option to purchase another 35ha of land in Waitara such as Waitara Golf Course.