2 Aug 2013

MP urges elder to end cycle trail protest

9:32 am on 2 August 2013

Labour MP Shane Jones is urging a Ngapuhi elder to lift a blockade on Northland's new cycle trail.

Ron Wihongi last week brought work on the $5 million project to a halt by parking his truck over the track.

The land is a 400-metre section of the old railway corridor, south of Kaikohe, taken last century under the Public Works Act. The council has leased it from KiwiRail for the cycle track.

Mr Wihongi says the land taken from his whanau should have been returned when the trains stopped in the 1970s. He and his family have lodged a claim over the railway land with the Waitangi Tribunal.

Shane Jones says he understands Mr Wihongi's frustration, but the cycle trail will bring the sort of jobs and business opportunities that hapu along the route desperately need.

Mr Jones says Mr Wihongi's family has manawhenua in the disputed area, and the Far North District Council should acknowledge that when it meets him on Friday.