Bay of Islands hapū stand against commercial use of public property

By Dean Nathan

The movement that saw a significant pou whakairo placed in the ground in the Bay of Islands over 30 years ago is well and truly alive.

Pita Tipene (Ngāti Hine) says, "It signifies guardianship of the land and the sea.  If the environment is in good health, so the people will be in good health.  What we're seeing is local government turning a blind eye, unresponsive to the concerns of locals, both Pākehā and Māori."

These comments relate to building and resource consents obtained by Doug Schmuck to turn his business, Doug's Boatyard, into a fully-fledged marina.

Doug Schmuck says, "What really needs to be done is to completely rebuild and in the process of doing that I've got all the applications done. They were all public and notified to build and to dredge a small channel around the existing footprints that were from the Harbour Board Act and also resource consents to create a small marina - it's a two-boat marina."

However, Maiki Marks says, "He really has no right to use a public reserve as he has since 1997 when he began acquiring more rights to the reserve for his own commercial boat business.  Today he wants use of the land and the foreshore and seabed for his own marina."

Opposition to the development of this area has caused the amendment of legislation in Parliament. It's been through the Environment Court and all the way to the Supreme Court.

"Our people have had enough of the land being stolen by anyone.  Irrespective of whether it's a small or large piece of land, we are the guardians. As Dame Whina Cooper said not one more acre!" says Tipene

"Basically, the Supreme Court said this was not an issue about the Treaty of Waitangi. This is about the rights of the boatyard in the way of property rights.

"The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that this was the situation with the boatyard and it granted all the easements that these folks have been arguing about for 25 years," says Schmuck.

But Marks says, "Local government and Parliament and the justice system have all turned their backs on Te Tiriti O Waitangi and our claims."

Ngāpuhi descendants are being called to come and support a gathering on the land this Sunday to protest.

Tipene explains, "What we're seeing is the approval of developments all around the bay and Ōpua in the interests of a select few who want control of the land and all the resources.  So, I'm calling on our people first to let them know that our lands are being stolen and secondly to find out what stance we will take over Sir James Henare's 1988 Treaty of Waitangi claim WAI 49 for Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Manu, Te Kapotai and Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu [in which he sought a halt to marine development in the inner Bay of Islands and the vesting of all fisheries, foreshores, waters rivers and seabed in the area]."

He concludes, "If this issue is taken to the full extent, these lands have the same status as Ihumātao."