TODAY |

Matakana Island whenua returned to hapū after almost 100 years of Crown ownership

It's a significant day for five hapū in the western Bay of Plenty with the district council agreeing to hand them back ownership of the eastern end of Matakana Island.

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The land, which shelters Tauranga Harbour was taken by the Crown almost 100 years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

The whenua (land), which shelters Tauranga Harbour was taken by the Crown almost 100 years ago.

The council's unanimous decision to return 172 hectares, met with tears of joy, cheering and waiata.

Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber says it was a "proud day".

"It's not very often you get the opportunity to right a wrong in New Zealand and it was a really proud day to be part of that and to be part of a council that's looked at this and taken it correctly forward," he told 1 NEWS.

There were more than 7,000 public submissions about the proposal, with just three per cent opposed.