Local Māori want Elliot Bay property up for sale land-banked

By Harata Brown

The Elliot family hope to sell most of their large Elliot Bay property based in the Bay of Islands, which stretches to pristine coastline, and has served as a popular tourist attraction for many years.  Local Māori however are urging the Crown to buy back the land in question and to have it land banked as part of a future Treaty Settlement package.

A property that is an oasis worth millions.

Marara Hook (Ngāti Kuta, Ngāpuhi) says, "The proper name for this whenua is Te Akau not Elliot's Farm and those other foreign names."

The owner of this land John Elliot wanted to sell over 600 hectares to the Department of Conservation with the chance to pay the purchase off over 20 years.  But the offer was turned down.

Ngā Iwi o Rāwhiti Treaty claimant, Robert Willoughby, says, "John Elliot's been a part of our community for a long time, and we understand his position but at the same time we also know the history behind that land, it was a village and gardens were growing there and they were pushed off it."

The property has a large farm.  It's also been a popular camping spot.

Willoughby says many factions of land in the area were confiscated by the Crown including Te Akau, also known as Elliot's Bay which is said to be part of a former Māori land block called Te Pahi.

Willoughby says, "We'd certaintly encourage discussions with DOC and the Crown to see if there is a way where we can put this land aside and regress some of the claims that we have across it."

In 2009, ancient bones surfaced on the banks pictured here and a report conducted by the Historical Places Trust confirmed that the bones were highly likely Māori.  Hook says the land is of huge significance to Māori.

The Elliot family couldn't be reached for comment.  The property is due on the open market next year. 

In a written statement, the Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson office said he has asked his officials to consider options relating to the use of the Elliot Bay property in Treaty settlements.