Hapu wins fight to keep precious land

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The battle has taken 12 years, a trip to the Privy Council, dozens of meetings and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But Margie Maguire says it was worth it to prevent a motorway crossing one of the last remnants of ancestral Maori land in Hastings.

Hastings DistrictA proposal by Hastings District Council to redesignate land to create a road connecting Havelock North to the Hawke’s Bay expressway has been declined by independent commissioners.

The move would have been the first step in acquiring the land compulsorily under the Public Works Act. The road would have crossed a 40.5ha block of land. Just 72ha remain of a 730ha block once owned by local hapu Ngati Hori.

The route on the northern side of Hastings was first mooted in 1974 and was the subject of a Privy Council hearing in 2001 after the council rejected a Maori Land Court ruling that local hapu could issue an injunction against the land being taken compulsorily.

The British law lords found in the council’s favour but said it would need to prove there was “a pressing need” for the route.

The proposal was heard by independent commissioners in April last year and again in May after a lengthy adjournment for consultation. Their decision was issued this week.

Commissioners Alan Watson, Terry Brown and Rauru Kirikiri said Maori had longstanding links with the land and “their mana has been diminished along with the diminution of their land holdings, and this is a cultural slight of immense dimensions within the Maori world”.

The commissioners also found there was poor justification by council for converting valuable plains-zoned land to a road.

Mrs Maguire, who attended the Privy Council hearing in London and has spent years fighting for her ancestral land, said she was thrilled with the decision.

“This is our last remnant on the Karamu Reserve. It’s only small but it’s our last connection to the land. We’ve got journals going back to 1863 showing how much food our ancestors grew here.

“It’s the principle of whakapapa, your roots, your identity. This is where I come from, this is where I am. That’s why it’s important to me.”

The fight had cost the hapu and supporters about $300,000, she said.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he accepted the decision and the council was unlikely to appeal to the Environment Court.

It would now consider building part of the arterial route between the expressway and Karamu Rd on the edge of the Maori land.

Awesome whanau~

Thanks to Sina Brown-Davis for sharing this link~ chur to the Dom Post too ~

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/national/2876247/Hapu-wins-fight-to-keep-precious-land

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