Govt urged to buy private land and return to Maori

10:06 am on 19 March 2013

A Ngapuhi elder is calling on the Crown to buy back land in private ownership and return it to Maori.

Kingi Taurua has told a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry that much of the land in the north was lost to missionaries well before the Treaty was signed.

Mr Taurua said the Government later clawed some back from those early deals, but sold some of it to settlers and kept the rest.

He said large tracts are now conservation land and that should come back to iwi.

He says the Government should also buy privately-owned land as it comes on the market and return it to Maori as rightful owners.

The tribunal's inquiry on Ngapuhi land claims is being held at the Waitangi marae.

It is the biggest inquiry since the Tribunal began and is dealing with 360 separate claims from the country's largest iwi.