10 Jun 2013

Forest protest group decamps

7:19 pm on 10 June 2013

Protesters have left a camp they set up in the Bay of Plenty to demonstrate over a stalemate to divide Maori land.

Members of a Ngati Manawa action group have held a noho, or occupation, on a slice of land in the Kaingaroa Forest.

They say they've achieved their aim which was to spark fresh dialogue between the eight iwi about sharing the forest blocks between them.

Group leader, Pem Bird, says a number of tribes are now prepared to talk about splitting the land according to mana whenua, or territorial rights.

He says he's been told Tuwharetoa is one of the iwi prepared to enter into dialogue.

Pem Bird says the camp will be occupied again, but not continuously.

He says the noho was a marvellous experience, because his people engaged with the mauri - or life-force- of the land.

Mr Bird say the mauri has been resuscitated through the occupation.

He says action group members will continue to meet at the site, to keep the earth warm, and tend newly-created maara kai, or vegetable gardens.

The forestry blocks were given back to eight iwi under the so-called Treelords Treaty settlement with the Crown in 2009.

The iwi involved are:

Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Rangitihi, Ngati Whare, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Manawa, Ngati Whakaue, and Raukawa and the affiliate Te Arawa iwi and hapu that make up Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa.