Award winning trust wins appeal to evict shareholders

updated By Dean Nathan

Winners of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Maori Excellence in Farming Awards for this year, the Omapere-Rangihamama Trust have won an appeal to evict the Tahere whānau who returned home some years ago to build homes on their ancestral lands.

It's an issue Toko Tahere's father fought for up until his death and seventy years later his son continues it.

Toko Tahere says, "I've been dealing with this matter since I returned to the land from Auckland back in the 1980's.  And we continue the struggle for the return of our lands.

The Chair of the Omapere Rangihamama Trust, Sonny Tau says, "They've been on the land for thirty years running cattle and gardening and all things you do on the land, and have never paid a cent in rates.  You can see how the land they occupy has all reverted to gorse." 

The issue began in 1941 as a result of the amalgamation of multiple blocks of Māori land in the area to form the current farm with a total area of approximately two thousand acres,  and the issue continues into this generation. 

A member of the local hapū Ngati Tautahi, Tahere says, "Since then we've continued the fight for the return of our lands because they only see it as a resource for making money.  But what about my children and grandchildren who have nothing and are homeless."

Tau says, "Our fight is not with them ( the Tahere whānau) but we represent the voice of the owners.  We want them to vacate the property and following that we can have discussions.  The current position is untenable as they are occupying 120 acres and that's not fair to the hundreds of shareholders of this farm.

The matter has gone as far as the high court with the final ruling of an injunction against the sixty plus members of the Tahere family who currently reside on the land they believe is their ancestral land to vacate by Tuesday of next week.

Tahere says, "Perhaps we can seek a final injunction in urgency that will allow us to continue living here while we negotiate through this issue but my relative Sonny Tau has said that our rights here are gone."

Chairman Sonny Tau says that the Tahere family are his kin and like many of the current shareholders are keen to return and live on the land and he is also keen to continue discussing the future utilization with them, "Once they vacate we'll be able to sit together and look a the situation.  If they want the land for gardening or whatever purpose it's not a problem but one hundred and twenty acres?  That's another issue."