23 Oct 2013

Claimants challenge Ruakaka land sale

8:26 am on 23 October 2013

Maori living south of Whangarei harbour are fighting plans for a racecourse expansion at Ruakaka.

The Patuharakeke people, who once owned all the land in Bream Bay, are opposing plans by the Whangarei Racing Club to develop 56 hectares sold to it by the Crown in 1991 for $270,000.

The hapu says the former state-owned enterprises land should not have been sold because it is tagged with Section 27B memorials for potential return to Patuharakeke as part of their Treaty settlement.

The Racing Club wants the Whangarei Council to approve a housing development, expanded horse-training facilities and a zoning change to Equine Environment.

The proposal would double the number of horses stabled to 200, allow the building of 350 houses, a hotel and other commercial activities.

Patuharakeke claimants say if that happens, the hapu will never get its land back.

They say they will strongly oppose the zoning change at a council hearing next month.

The claimants say the racecourse saga is a prime example of how the Crown and councils have collaborated over the years to alienate Maori from valuable land in Bream Bay.