A Maori trust that wants to terminate leases of its tribe's land at a Bay of Plenty seaside settlement has said it will meet residents to discuss the issue.

About 30 homeowners at Little Waihi, east of Tauranga, have been told by Te Arawa Lakes Trust, which manages the assets and resources of the Arawa iwi, that their annual licences to occupy will be terminated within a year.

Trust chairman Toby Curtis said: "The trust intends to meet those concerned ... and is willing, as it always has been to date, to consider a positive way forward."

The move to end the licences has upset residents, including fourth-generation resident Jackaileen Elsworth. "We're dumbfounded, we're shocked," she said. "We just did not expect that."

The reason given for the termination was that poor wastewater management was damaging the nearby estuary, although the Western Bay of Plenty District Council has said it is developing a new sewerage system that covers Little Waihi.

The ray of hope came as a New Zealand expatriate who bought a Little Waihi property last year as a retirement dream told how he faced losing $124,000 if the terminations go ahead.

Alan Strid, who lives in Canada, bought in Little Waihi on a licence-to-occupy deal endorsed by the iwi trust board after negotiating directly with the property's previous owner.

Now he has been told he has less than a year to vacate the land, with no compensation - which he says is astounding and hurtful, as well as financially crippling.

Mr Strid, 61, was drawn to the area as he searched the web for a New Zealand retirement home. Although he was raised in Auckland, his parents and two sisters now live in the Bay of Plenty, and he was keen to find a suitable place near his family.

While investigating on the web from Calgary, he phoned the iwi management company a couple of times to clarify issues about land lease and any restrictions on buildings.

The only point made, he says, was that changes must on the "same footprint" - in other words, improvements had to be within the same ground coverage.

Early last year while on holiday in New Zealand, he called in to Little Waihi to see for himself - and loved what he found.

Mr Strid, who left New Zealand in the early 1970s, investigated a for-sale sign over an estuary property and after negotiation bought it from the owners for $100,000. The Arawa management company authorised the lease transfer.

He used the rest of his holiday to get the section and cottage up to scratch, and ready for a tenant as he started the countdown to retirement. The work included paying $24,000 to fix a flooding problem.

All was going smoothly until he received the letter last month telling him he had less than a year to leave the land because of concerns over pollution of the estuary.

He said from Calgary that he supported Te Arawa's desire to clean up the estuary, and wanted to help.

"I just hope they will talk to us and see what we can do together to solve the problem and keep Little Waihi alive as a community."

Mr Strid asked why only about 20 residences had been singled out for termination - and wondered what the trust intended to do about the remaining 40 or so properties.

He was "astounded at the lack of consultation over an action that takes homes away from decent people".

- APN, NZPA