29 Jul 2013

Tribal elder against construction of cycle trail

4:41 pm on 29 July 2013

Nga Puhi elder Ron Wihongi says he doesn't care if he's arrested at a protest on Monday near Kaikohe to try to stop the construction of a cycle track through land once belonging to his tribe.

Far North District Council has almost completed a 73km Twin Coast cycle trail, but Nga Puhi are aggrieved part of it will run through an area taken early last century under the Public Works Act and then leased to the council.

The $4 million cycle trail also crosses an area of land containing an urupa (burial site) holding the remains of prominent Nga Puhi ancestors including Hongi Hika.

Despite his family filing a claim with the Waitangi tribunal to have the Kaikohe lands returned, Mr Wihongi said the council has sidestepped the claimants and continued constructing the cycleway.

After protests last week, the council has sought trespass orders and has instructed police to issue them on Monday if necessary.

Mr Wihongi said his people plan to stand up for their rights and he doesn't care if he goes to prison for it.