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Ngati Kahu forcibly removed from their own land

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Police have forcibly removed Ngati Kahu activists from their whenua bringing an end to a land occupation on disputed land currently used by the Taipa Sailing Club, in the far north.

Police arrivedto the small coastal town at first light this morning and informed those occupying the site that they had the choice to remove themselves, or be removed. Many of the Ngati Kahu tangata remained defiant.

Police then moved in to arrest the occupiers. As they did so, they were met by shouts of protest from onlookers and songs of defiance from the occupiers. Those arrested were transported to the Kaitaia Police Station, 30 km south-west of Taipa.

A Waitangi Tribunal report in 1997 upheld Ngati Kahu's claim to the site and agreed its title to the land had never been extinguished. Despite this, as the protest co-leader Wikitana Popata explained, 'we've been arrested from our own whenua'. To add to this irony the occupiers have now been trespassed from the site for two years and can be arrested for simply setting foot on what the government has deemed to be their land.

However Ngati Kahu activists remain staunch in their struggle which, they recognise, is without end.

Comments

Far North occupation evicted by cops

(was in the process of compiling something, but Ryan was faster :-))

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.

It's just typical how the

It's just typical how the state media are focussing on the poor kids who don't get to learn how to sail this summer because of the short occupation. Never mind the maori community who have been denied their lands for over a hundred years, so that they can simply live.

I hope the poor council who have to clean up the 'material' left behind, return those items!

Typical subtle racism.

Maori land protesters not done yet

Maori land protesters not done yet

3News

Nine Maori land protesters are planning to go back onto land where they were arrested this morning.

The group, from Ngati Kahu, were removed from a council-owned reserve at Taipa, in the Far North.

They were released a short time later.

Protesters chanted, "Stand up, be proud. We are going to fight for our rights."

It was a message of support to those occupying the Taipa Spit, and a warning to those who came to remove them.

With the council's request for the occupiers to leave ignored, police set a 20-minute deadline.

"If you don't, you are liable to be arrested for the offence of trespass," Snr Sgt Geoff Ryan of Kaitaia police told them.

As the deadline passed trespass notices were handed out, but the protest leaders remained defiant.

"We do not recognise this notice and these whenua belong to us," Wi Popata said, tearing the letter up.

Eventually, Mr Popata and the others were taken away without a fight.

"We are getting trespassed off our own whenua," he said. "This trespass means nothing to me."

He had a message for his supporters.

"Come and support for the next generation for the wellbeing of the river and the wellbeing of the whenua. Tena kotou katou."

"This is their whenua," a supporter told 3 News. "Why are they being taken away from here ? This is their land."

Those arrested had been at the site for several weeks, claiming the land was stolen by the Crown. But the council says blocking people from the area was the wrong way to resolve the dispute.

"There is a process, and we the council, Crown and public would prefer they follow that process to work through the issue they have with this land," says David Edmunds, Far North District Council CEO.

The occupation led to cancellation of some bookings at neighbouring hotels and events at the local sailing club.

"We just hope that we can keep sailing and have freedom back on the point again," says Dean Lutze of the Taipa Sailing Club.

Despite the arrest of those occupying this land, it's unlikely it'll be the last people see of the Popata brothers or their Ngati Kahu supporters, who've all vowed that they will return.