22 Jan 2013

Bid to wrest Maori land from council trustee

8:30 pm on 22 January 2013

Landowners are trying to stop Whanganui District Council continuing to be the trustee for local Maori land.

Some owners of blocks of customary land argue that the council should relinquish its control in favour of trustees chosen by land owners and members of the Kai Iwi Land Trust.

They say the council has not been maintaining the land and noxious weeds and plants have been allowed to flourish.

But several other owners want to keep the council onboard to administer and manage the whenua.

The matter is now being heard by the Maori Land Court, which says the council has kept the land in good shape.

It does note that it is increasingly unusual for local authorities to be a trustee of Maori land - particularly when there are capable and competent owners who could do the job.

The court has ordered that a ballot should be held before the end of January to decide if owners of the land should be appointed in place of Whanganui District Council.