The descendants of Whangarei hapu Patuharakeke will be devastated if Mighty River Power sells what is left of its tribal lands, a trustee says.
The hapu was awaiting a judgement from the Waitangi Tribunal on its link to the land, known as Poupouwhenua, when it realised the State-run asset had it for sale.
Its trust board on Thursday filed for an interim injunction in the High Court at Whangarei to stop the tender process.
Trustee Ani Pitman said more than 2000ha was confiscated by the Crown for deeds it had since identified as not being valid.
Only about 160ha was left, and the prospect of losing that was devastating, Ms Pitman said. Whanau were emotional about the situation.
Ms Pitman said it was the only bit of tupuna land left that it could access, and it wanted Poupouwhenua landbanked so the tribe had the opportunity to buy it back.
Hapu lawyer Pru Kapua said selling the land before a decision was out would mean it was likely to be lost to the hapu for good.
It was disappointing as the hapu had an agreement with Mighty River Power which acknowledged the cultural significance of the land, she said.