A Wairoa man who vowed to continue to fight for land he believed was "rightfully" his, has been arrested, more than a month after a judge granted police the right to do so.

On Wednesday, Bruce Smith, along with his wife Ruby, and two daughters Kreslea and Jarna, were taken into custody on High Court Civil Arrest orders on their way to a legal meeting in Napier.

It came after allegations they failed to comply with Māori Land Court orders.

A police spokeswoman said four women, including three aged 32, 35 and 62 were located in a vehicle near Whirinaki, shortly after 3pm yesterday afternoon.


"Three were taken into custody and returned to Hastings Police station where they will remain until their appearance later today," the spokeswoman said.

"The fourth accompanied Police to Hastings and arrangements were made to have her picked up by family."

It is understood the fourth woman is the family's grandmother, believed to be in her 80s.

The spokeswoman said a 60-year-old man was arrested separately later in the evening near Ruakituri.

They are due to appear this afternoon in Wellington High Court by audiovisual link.

She referred further comment in relation to charges to the High Court, as it is a "civil matter"

"Police were simply executing the arrest warrant issued by the court.

"As the matter is before the courts, police cannot comment any further."


Bruce Smith's son, Cole Smith told Hawke's Bay Today on Thursday it was a "tough situation".

Cole said Smith and his family were "pulled up in the middle of the street" where their cars were impounded and they were arrested.

His father was in a separate car to other family members and was arrested last, Cole said.

Cole Smith said he received a frantic call from his father at about 3pm (NZT) telling him his family had been arrested.

They were in Napier where they were due to have a meeting about the legal action they were pursuing, Cole Smith said.

"The main thing is making sure my family is safe and then we will sort this s*** out."

"I am just trying to get proper legal people to get in and get it sorted."

Since 2015, the family have been embroiled in disputes over access and occupancy, with various actions taken in the Maori Land Court.

The family had originally said they were not going to leave the property - a 790ha block, known as Waipaoa 5A2.

Cole Smith, who lives on the Gold Coast, told Hawke's Bay Today on Thursday he would continue what his father started and would aim to free his family.

The land, once leased by Bruce Smith's late father Francis Smith, is jointly owned by him and six siblings who hold a 60 per cent share.

The other 40 per cent is owned by more than 500 shareholders, including Smith, in his own name, and administered by Te Tumu Paeroa (the Maori Trustee).

In November 2016, the court ordered Smith and his family to leave the property and remove their possessions within seven days.

The following year, after subsequent applications for re-hearings by Smith proved unsuccessful, the court issued an injunction prohibiting the family from entering or occupying the land.

The Maori Land Court removed Smith as a trustee of the estate and removed him as a director in 2017.

However, just weeks later, the trustee found the Smiths had continued to live at the homestead and had allegedly put a gate across a bridge, blocking access to the land.

The situation deteriorated when the trustee was given a trespass order from the Smiths that was to stop Māori Trustee staff going to the property.

On May 27, at a hearing at the High Court in Wellington, Justice Christine Grice refused to cease an arrest warrant issued and instead gave the family until June 4 to seek legal advice and to leave the land before further arrest warrants were issued.

In June, speaking to Hawke's Bay Today, Smith said they were being "persecuted".

He said they were "waiting ... ready" for any police intervention.