The Maori Land Court played a major part in the loss of land at Matauri Bay, north of Kerikeri, a prominent Northland kaumatua says.
Dover Samuels gave evidence yesterday at a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into the historic grievances of hapu from the Whangaroa district.
The Tribunal, headed by Judge Craig Coxhead who is a judge of the Maori Land Court, is working its way through nearly 400 claims by Ngapuhi and other northern iwi, in the Paparahi o Te Rahi inquiry.
Mr Samuels told the inquiry the alienation of his land went back to the 1960's when local landowners were encouraged to amalgamate to form an incorporation.
"All we know is that the registrar of the Maori Land Court personally made the application for the creation of the incorporation - Matauri-X. And then without further documentation or substantiation, the incorporated is created.
"This is in my view is grossly unlawful and illegal and in fact taking my whanau land and placing it in the hands and control of others, in such a way that would place that whenua at risk."
Mr Samuels said loss of land at Matauri Bay could be traced back to a rates debt of $1600 pounds in the 1960's.
He said forty years later the people owed more than $20 million to finance companies, because of blunders by their corporate leaders, and what he believed were unlawful actions by the Maori Land Court.
Mr Samuels said the Maori Land Court also intervened to stop a leasehold deal that he had arranged, which would have seen the whanau keep the ownership of their land and derive an income from it.