17 Nov 2010

Taipa Point protest may be risk to Far North claim

5:55 pm on 17 November 2010

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson appears worried a protest at Taipa Point could undermine efforts to resolve the Muriwhenua claim in the Far North.

Mr Finlayson's frustration with the Taipa Point protest became apparent on Tuesday when he said the protesters were stupid and could go to hell.

During question time in Parliament, he told MPs good progress was being made on the Muriwhenua claim and the Taipa Point protest might not be helpful.

He said the protest had not had an impact on the negotiations and he hoped it would not.

But in answer to a later question, Mr Finlayson acknowledged that the protest was getting in the way of signing deeds of settlement.

Mr Finlayson said he stood by comments he made about Maori occupying land at Taipa Point and would not retract them.

Protesters from Ngati Kahu have moved back on to Taipa Point next to a reserve they were evicted from last week.

Mr Finlayson on Tuesday responded to protesters' demands for him to meet with them, by saying they can "go to hell".

He said the occupiers should recognise their actions were harmful to the iwi.

Mr Finlayson would not be drawn on whether police should have acted on Tuesday when the protesters returned, but said the protesters should be served trespass notices so the law can take its course if they do not comply.

Landowner may seek trespass notice

The owner of land occupied by the protesters may seek to have a trespass notice issued against them.

Kevin Mayle owns the block that was formally the Taipa motor camp.

He says he asked the protesters' spokesperson, John Popata, to reconsider the protest.

The protesters are building a shelter and say they plan to stay for the summer.

Different view

Meanwhile, a Ngati Kahu leader says the owner of land is willing to sell it to the iwi, but the Government will not come to the party.

Lead negotiator Margaret Mutu says the tribe's right to the land was upheld by the Waitangi Tribunal and it is only the Government's refusal to deal with private or council land that prevents its return.

Dr Mutu says she has asked the Race Relations Conciliator to go to Taipa and try to defuse the growing tension there.