9 Dec 2010

Maori group to end occupation of Far North land

7:41 pm on 9 December 2010

The Crown's chief negotiator for Far North Treaty of Waitangi claims says he has been told by a Maori group that it will end its land occupation on Thursday.

About two dozen members of Ngai Takoto set up camp on Wednesday at Kaimaumau on land known as Mekerene, about 25km north of Kaitaia.

The iwi says the Waitangi Tribunal has recommended the land should be secured to the iwi and they were occupying it to prevent its sale to another buyer.

However, Auckland accountant Robert Foster says the land now belongs to the Bird family following a transaction earlier in December.

Crown negotiator Pat Snedden says he met with Ngai Takoto on Thursday morning and explained to them that the occupation would not enhance their right to the land through the Treaty settlement process.

Mr Snedden says they can include the land in their existing Treaty claim, which he is confident can be resolved.

Ngai Takoto says more than 13,000 hectares at Kaimaumau was taken by the Crown in 1857 and sold to the Vuksich family in 1991, despite a Waitangi Tribunal recomendation that it be secured by the iwi.

A spokesperson for the family, Danny Vuksich, says the land was put up for sale last year, but Ngai Takoto's offer was too low and by the time it increased the offer, it was too late.