Little Waihi residents threatened with eviction feel there is a glimmer of hope after a meeting yesterday with the iwi that intends to kick them off their land.

Homeowners in the township, near Maketu in the Bay of Plenty, spoke to the Arawa Lakes Trust for the first time since being told they must leave within a year.

The trust's commercial arm has terminated the licences--to-occupy on 29 lots. It has told the owners that their septic tanks are polluting the estuary.

Yesterday, at a marae in Maketu, residents, criticised the "cold and callous" way the eviction notices were delivered, and the lack of consultation.

The community questioned why they were being removed for poor wastewater systems when a new sewage system would soon be installed by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Te Arawa Management chairman Niwa Nuri said the estuary's health was at a tipping point, and there was no guarantee the sewage system would be built.

"This was not an easy decision. We can move forward, but we just don't know how we can get a win-win situation."

The meeting concluded with the formation of a residents' committee to work with the trust.

There was no sign the evictions would be revoked, but homeowners felt that the promise of a new committee was a sign that the trust could soften or even rescind its evictions.

Barbara Kiri, who had flown from Australia to attend the meeting, said the stress of being kicked out of her holiday home was subsiding.

"We still don't know what our future is but it sounds more promising now."

She had intended to retire in her prime coastal home next month, but the eviction notice upset her plans.

Before the meeting, 40 homeowners who have been allowed to stay at Little Waihi feared they, too, could soon be evicted.

Mr Niwa said the trust had no hidden agenda for the land.

It wanted the estuary to be protected for future generations. This could be done by removing the houses that skirted its edge.

Jack Elsworth, a resident for 36 years and the "unofficial mayor" of Little Waihi, said the trust could be turning a corner after hearing residents' emotional connection to the site.

He had tearfully pleaded with the trust to reconsider the evictions.

"I don't know what you people are doing ... You are ruining our lives," he told trust representatives.

Many residents were disappointed that the trust had delivered the crushing news in a letter, without warning.

Jackaileen Elsworth said homeowners had to endure weeks of insecurity waiting for clarity from the trust.

"That stress factor is a killer. We have a lot of elderly and sick people in the community who are struggling."

Te Arawa Lakes Trust chairman Toby Curtis said it was an unhappy time for many people, but "a start had to be made somewhere".

The decision to evict had divided not only the community but the trust itself - the board had not been unanimous in its decision on the move.

Board member Tipene Marr said publicly that he would have opposed the eviction letters had he known about them in advance.