24 Apr 2014

Family appeals Public Works Act

7:41 am on 24 April 2014

Descendants of a Pakeha farming family are asking the Government to review the Public Works Act.

Woodbourne Air Base

Woodbourne Air Base Photo: PHOTO NZ

A group of relatives has been fighting for the return of part of the Woodbourne Airbase in Blenheim, which was taken under the act when World War II broke out.

The land has been put into a Treaty settlement package for local iwi, in a sale and leaseback agreement with the Crown.

It gives Ngati Apa, Ngati Kuia and Rangitane o Wairau the right to purchase the whenua and allows the Crown to take out a lease.

Family spokesperson Tim Fairhall says after losing a High Court case on the issue, they're now asking politicians to intervene.

He says he made a promise to his father that he'd do everything he could to get the land back, when his father said: "Tim, don't let them run over the family again. They took the land in 1939 and paid nothing for it".

Mr Fairhall says the land should come back to the family, under a right of return policy in section 40 of the Public Works Act.

Mr Fairhall and his relatives recently lost a High Court case, which declared the sale and leaseback mechanism is political and not something for the courts to deal with.

The family has explored most avenues and is now appealing for Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson to intervene.