Govt criticised over Kaitaia land tensions

Author
Alex Mason,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Sep 2015, 1:52PM

Govt criticised over Kaitaia land tensions

Author
Alex Mason,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Sep 2015, 1:52PM

The Government is being criticised for ignoring a Far North iwi and sparking a land occupation.

Maori protestors from Ngati Kahu are occupying Kaitaia Airport, saying the land is rightfully theirs.

They are refusing to back a $100 million dollar Treaty settlement due to be ratified today.

Winston Peters said the law is clear - if land is taken under the Public Works Act and the purpose for which it was claimed is no longer to be continued, that land must be offered back to its original owners.

But the Northland MP said the Government has decided to change the ownership, add it to a treaty settlement, and only give half back to Ngati Kahu

"It's not going to the people who had the land taken off them by the military in the second World War in the first place.

"Well, straight there, you've got a legal problem."

Mr Peters said this protest came about because the Government ignored advice from the High Court last month, to reconsider the contentious treaty settlement.

He said the Government is continuing to push through legislation.

"Don't ram stuff through here and expect everybody to salute it, when you have got unresolved issues.

"Surely you want to be able to say I have satisfied every complainant's problem, and I have therefore got resolution."

The MP who won the Northland by-election by a landslide says he's willing to get in a helicopter and fly to Kaitaia, to sort out the stoush over the local airport.

He said while the land occupation stems from legitimate legal concerns, the Government must get the airport up and running.

Regular medical flights have been unable to land because of the protest.

Winston Peters said it is cutting off critical supplies.

"What the minister and the Government can't do is say 'We've got a fight on our hands, an occupation on our hands, but we're not going to do anything.'

"If they think they're on solid legal grounds then they should bring in the police and reopen the airport."

Winston Peters said if Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is not confident of the legality of the Government's actions, he needs to negotiate with the iwi to vacate the airport so it can operate while the matter is resolved.

"What has to happen is no matter what the circumstance the airport has got to be reopened.

"Everybody - Maori, European, and what have you - who may be ill or sick needs that transport to get out of there. And that's pretty critical."

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