21 Feb 2012

Iwi occupy Crafar farm in Treaty protest

6:43 am on 21 February 2012

Members of a King Country iwi have set up camp on one of the Crafar farms near Benneydale demanding that their ancestral whenua, or land, is returned.

The property is one of the 16 North Island farms that were offered to Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin.

The High Court has ordered the Overseas Investment Office to reconsider its recommendation that the sale to Shanghai Pengxin be approved.

The occupiers from Ngati Rereahu began setting up camp on Monday afternoon.

They plan to move shipping containers bearing protest banners to the side of the nearby highway and say they are prepared to stay for the long haul.

A Ngati Rereahu spokesperson, Edward Moana-Emery, says the protest is a continuation of the 126-year fight with the Crown and will be part of its Treaty claim.

The land was once part of the iwi's ancestral whenua and two Maori land trusts were part of the Crafar farms purchase group trying to buy back the land.

Mr Moana-Emery told Checkpoint the iwi has the money to buy the farms and is serious about owning the land

He says the protest action is not a knee jerk reaction to the controversy surrounding the Crafar farms sale.

The receiver for the Crafar farms says it has been caught unaware by the protest.

Spokesperson Michael Stiassny told Checkpoint he has been in touch with police but is not sure whether he will ask for their help.

He says there is a clear understanding that the protesters will not disrupt any milking operations.