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Lost Maori land could be returned to Te Atiawa after 70 years

Oct 31st, 2013 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

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WAIWHETU MARAE: A piece of land within its rohe taken in 1942 may be returned to Te Atiawa iwi

MAORI LAND taken more than 70 years ago could be offered back to Te Atiawa iwi pending a council hearing yet to be scheduled.

After an approach by a local group of Te Atiawa iwi, Hutt City Council has proposed a district plan change to the reserve status of a small lot in Waiwhetu in order to be able to dispose of the land.

In one of only two submissions on the proposal, Te Runanga o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui say they support the rezoning of the land, and that it should be offered back to local iwi Te Atiawa.

Te Atiawa has had historical occupation of the land, but it was taken in 1942 by the Crown under the Public Works Act.

Te Reri Puketapu made the submission on the behalf of Te Runanga and explained why the recent interest in the land.

“The Public Works Act has changed in the past few years to mean that the council must offer the land back to the original owners,” Mr Puketapu said.

The council would have to change the status of the lot if they were to sell it, as they cannot sell land under its current status of a recreational reserve.

Mr Puketapu said that there was still a long process to be followed, but his organisation felt that the decision about what to do with the land was simple.

“Obviously, if we were to win back the land in some way, we would invest that into housing for our people.”

The lot, 1800 square metres in Atiawa Crescent, has since been deemed to have little value for the public.

The reserve was assessed after Te Runanga approached the council last year about acquiring the land, and the lot, 1800 square metres in Atiawa Crescent, has since been deemed to have little value for the public .

A report to council by consultant group PAOS advised that the area was not used much by local residents. It described the lot as “having low reserve values”.

The report also stated that, with three other reserves within a kilometre, residents had enough space for recreational use.

The other submitter, Robert Ashe, is against the proposal to rezone the land and has put forward an idea for communal use of the lot as a garden.

“The land is directly adjacent to a church and the church wants a way to reach out to its community. They would really love to see this as a community garden,” Mr Ashe said.

His submission wants to see the council work with the church and local iwi on building the garden.

“Here’s a chance for a project that’s really exciting. The idea of community gardens is not only to feed people but to bring people together.”

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