The chair of Northland iwi Ngati Kahu says a decade-long battle against Carrington Farms and the Far North District Council has been financially and mentally taxing.
Professor Margaret Mutu says the Maori tribe challenged the company's plans to build houses above an ancestral burial cave on Karikari peninsular north-east of Kaitaia.
Ms Mutu says in 2001, Carrington Farms and the council signed an agreement with the iwi and the Environmental Protection Society to protect Te Ana o Taite.
But six years later, the council granted the company consent to build 12 houses above the cave.
Ms Mutu says a fight against the development ended late last week when Justice White ruled that the 2001 agreement is legally binding and he would quash the council's subdivision and building consents.
She says the battle has taken its financial toll on the runanga and the several families who mortgaged their homes for a fighting fund.