31 Oct 2012

Marae trespass notice issued

7:14 pm on 31 October 2012

The Maori Land Court has issued an injunction against a man accused of trespassing on a Hawke's Bay marae.

According to the court, Edward Ropiha has been occupying Mahanga Marae at Mahia.

Trustees called the police at least twice in mid-October to remove him.

Mr Ropiha was told if he didn't leave, bookings for the marae would have to be cancelled or postponed at a cost of $1200.

Documents show he told the police he wouldn't leave without a fight.

However, the judge in the case has ruled Mr Ropiha has no right to occupy the marae without permission from the trustees who are the legal owners of the land.

The court notes an Edward Norman Ropiha is an owner of the customary land where the marae is - and says he's likely to be the same person at the centre of the dispute.

The trespass notice was sought by the five trustees of Mahanga Marae - also known as Mahanga 1C1E Maori Reservation.

Justice Reeves says there's an application before the Maori Land Court for the appointment of new trustees - but the bid has been adjourned while an audit is carried out.

He says the audit will assess whether there's been fraudulent activity involved in the administration of funds by the trustees.