Whakatane Golf Club to sell confiscated land back to local Maori

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A dispute over land owned by the Whakatane Golf Club appears to have been peacefully resolved.

Ngai Taiwhakaea has come to a deal with the club to right what it calls a historical wrong.
Source: 1 NEWS

Local Maori, Ngai Taiwhakaea, say the land was originally confiscated in the 19th century and they've wanted it back since.

"We're no longer going to sit silently. For a long time we just sat silently and just watched them playing golf and just let them play on our land," said Manukorihi Tarau, Ngai Taiwhakaea spokesman.

Whakatane Golf Club was putting 16 hectares up for sale. But the sub-tribe argued it should get it for free because after confiscation, the land was taken again in the 1920s under the Public Works Act.

"They're no longer using it for that fact, I believe it should be coming back to our hapu," Mr Tarau said.

Last night there was a breakthrough when club members met to sort through the bids and to listen to the history.

"Yes, I think that the people last night felt that there was an injustice and that the meeting last night started to put some of that injustice to rights," said Bob Thompson of Whakatane Golf Club.

And so there's a deal, with a Ngai Taiwhakaea land trust successfully bidding for the land, but not revealing the price.

"We're pretty good at sitting at the table and talking. We know what we want," said Stan Ratahi of Paroa Trust.

It's not the first protest over a golf course. Eva Rickard's famous battle for the Raglan course in the 1970s set off the current Waitangi Treaty settlement process.

Forty years later, Maori and Pakeha have been able to sort it out peacefully over the Whakatane land.

"It was nice to be able to work in harmony with our neighbours," Mr Thompson said.

Mr Tarau said: "We don't think we should be paying for land that belongs to us. But at the end of the day, the gesture from trustees to buy it for us, we support it."

But there's still a bump in the road to compromise. Tonight protesters are taking action over a related dispute, blocking access to the land and a nearby beach until further notice.

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