28 Jul 2012

King Country Maori hail return of whenua

8:45 pm on 28 July 2012

Descendants of the original owners of two blocks of King Country land say they have reached a watershed moment, following the final reading of their Treaty settlement bill.

The passing of legislation will resolve grievances for Maraeroa A and B blocks, near Te Kuiti.

Brian Stanley, the chairperson of Te Maru o Rereahu Trust, which was set up to drive the claim, says the Crown has apologised for taking whenua rich with native timber.

He says records show most of the land bought by the Crown for almost nothing was from children who were as young as a year old to eight years old.

Mr Stanley says basically the land was taken.

He says about 1500 hectares will be returned to the trust, which is deciding whether to use it for farming or forestry.

The Crown says it profoundly regrets and unreservedly apologises to the descendants of the original owners of the two blocks for the loss of the land.