13 Jan 2010

Brothers who assaulted PM in fresh land protest

7:38 am on 13 January 2010

Two brothers who assaulted Prime Minister John Key say their occupation of private land in Northland is to send the Government a message that all privately-owned land in the area should be returned to the Ngati Kahu iwi.

John and Wikatana Popata set up camp at the weekend on a former camping ground at the coastal town of Taipa. The land is destined for subdivision.

The brothers say local Pakeha are disrespecting the land, and their actions are for the benefit of the whole Taipa community, because they're trying to prevent further development there.

The iwi's chief negotiator, Margaret Mutu, says the land should be returned, even though it's not part of treaty negotiations.

"When they see Pakeha at Taipa building these huge, monstrous luxury houses and descrating wahi tapu, discharging sewage into our rivers, they've just had enough, she says.

She says the protest has the full backing of the tribe. "These young boys are just reflecting what their elders have been saying for quite some time now."

The brothers have uprooted For Sale signs at the former motor camp and say they intend to stop any property development there, AAP reports.

The men were convicted of assault and apologised to Mr Key after jostling him at Waitangi Day celebrations in February last year, in a protest over land rights. The Prime Minister was not hurt in the incident.