Maori land protesters have been removed from a Far North sailing club on a District Council reserve, with 10 arrested and departing in a police van.

The police arrived at the Taipa Sailing Club, 30km northeast of Kaitaia, soon after first light today and told a Ngati Kahu protest group occupying the land they have to move off.

The occupiers were given the option of walking off peacefully or being arrested for trespass, Senior Sergeant Geoff Ryan said.

A number said they would not leave the land so they went through the "arrest process", he said.

Those arrested had been taken to Kaitaia police station, where police would decide whether charges should be laid.

Singing broke out as the occupiers were taken to the police van, to shouts of support from onlookers.

Protest co-leader Wikitana Popata shouted "we're being arrested from our whenua".

The group had been camping on the land since last month, restricting access to sailing club members to protest the council retaining ownership of the land.

Their action had forced the cancellation of children's sailing lessons for the summer.

A Waitangi Tribunal report in 1997 upheld Ngati Kahu's claim and agreed its title to the land had never been extinguished.

Far North District Council spokeswoman, Alison Lees, said the police would enforce trespass notices and the group would be asked to leave.

Far North area commander Inspector Chris Scahill told NZPA police were acting as agents for the council.

Council chief executive David Edmunds who was at the eviction told NZPA the protesters were trespassed for a period of two years by the council.

If they tried to reoccupy the land they could immediately be removed by police.

Mr Edmunds asked police yesterday to act. He said Ngati Kahu should go back to the Government and have the issue resolved.

Council staff were today cleaning up material left by the occupiers on the site - a fire in a rubbish drum, a pole structure with flags and a corrugated iron hut.

- NZPA