9 Nov 2010

Protest group prepare for confrontation with police

9:00 pm on 9 November 2010

A Ngati Kahu group occupying a council reserve in the Far North is preparing for a confrontation with police, saying they expect an attempt on Wednesday morning to evict them.

The group of about 12, who have set up a makeshift marae at the Taipa Sailing Club, are demanding the reserve be returned to the local hapu.

Prime Minister John Key says the Government is concerned about the occupation, which he says is illegal and counterproductive to the Treaty settlement process.

Mr Key says it is up to Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson to determine whether the land was confiscated from the iwi by the Crown.

The group has sought a meeting with Mr Finlayson, but Mr Key says that whether the meeting goes ahead depends on whether the group holds the negotiating mandate for the iwi.

Sailing lessons cancelled

The club says it has had to cancel sailing lessons for young people because the group will not let members into the building where boats and sails are stored.

An occupation leader, Wi-Katana Popata, says the club will get not access to its building until the Government acknowledges that the Taipa land belongs to Ngati Kahu. He says the group will not end its occupation, nor will it take any violent action on Wednesday.

The Far North District Council confirmed on Monday that it had asked police to end the occupation.