Far North occupation evicted by cops

10 people were arrested this morning at a Ngati Kahu occupation of the Taipa Sailing Club in Doubtless Bay, 30km northeast of Kaitaia. They were taken to the Kaitaia police station and it’s not clear yet if they will be charged.

Protest co-leader Wikitana Popata shouted “we’re being arrested from our whenua”.

The group had reoccupied the land on Friday after a march in Kaitaia. The land was also occupied in October. Access to sailing club members was restricted to protest the council retaining ownership of the land. It was the Council who asked the police to make the arrests.

Far North District Council spokeswoman, Alison Lees, had said the police would enforce trespass notices and the group would be asked to leave. Council chief executive David Edmunds, who was at the eviction, said the protesters were trespassed for a period of two years by the council. If they tried to reoccupy the land they could immediately be arrested by police.

Land stolen twice

According to Ngati Kahu leader Margaret Mutu, Taipa was the final landing place of the waka Mamaru and was “iconic land” at the core of the tribe’s rohe.

The tribe had gifted much of Taipa, the Oruru Valley and east towards Kohumaru, to a Pakeha doctor when Ngati Kahu was devastated by European illnesses in the 1820s and 1830s, and needed someone who could help. That “huge tract of land” was meant to induce him to stay.

When he left, by Maori custom the land reverted to Ngati Kahu, said Mutu.

Around that time Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi were fighting over the area. The Crown paid them out and bought the land, leaving Ngati Kahu on the sidelines.

When the Crown divided up what it regarded as “surplus land”, some of it ended up with Gerard and Frida Adamson.

The beachfront land was later taken from the Adamsons by Crown proclamation, making it “doubly stolen”. In the late 1970s or early 1980s the Adamsons gifted their remaining land to Ngati Kahu.

Professor Mutu said a 1997 Waitangi Tribunal report upheld Ngati Kahu’s claim and agreed its title to the land had never been extinguished.

Next generation…

Earlier this year Ngati Kahu was one of five Far North iwi to sign an Agreement in Principle – the final step before reaching a settlement with the Crown – even though the deal did not include the land at Taipa.

Professor Mutu said the iwi signed on condition that it was not a full and final settlement, but the next generation would pursue the rest of the land.

The Popata brothers staging the occupation at Taipa Pt reserve were “part of that next generation”, she said.

The group’s representative, John Popata, says about 40 people were at the occupation in the weekend. They had built sleeping quarters and had their own power and water.

Mr Popata said they will be writing to Treaty Negotiations Minister, Chris Finlayson, to invite him to the site.