Around 50 whānau of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa have occupied the Mapuna Atea farm block which is being sold by the Maori Education Trust against the wishes of local iwi.
The land was gifted by local farmer Edward Holmes in the 1960’s to support the education of Māori in the Wairarapa, however the Board is now selling that block of land which Kahungunu ki Wairarapa were hoping to have returned in its treaty settlement
Those opposing the sale gathered at Mapuna Atea on Sunday night and say they are occupying the land to live out the dream that belonged to Edward Holmes.
Native Affair’s reporter Billie Jo Hohepa Ropiha was with the whānau gathered at the farm last night and says the opposition to the sale has gained momentum and many people across the country and the world have expressed support for the whānau gathered there.
Meka Whaitiri of the Labour Party and Marama Fox of the Māori Party both attended the occupation to show their support and Marama Fox told Native Affairs that the Minister of Māori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell was committed to doing all he could to ensuring justice was upheld for Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Politicians in support of the stand whānau are taking are calling for an inquiry into the sale.
Robin Potangaroa of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa says the offer of iwi to buy the land was a very good tender price but they were still declined.
He says, “Ned Holmes was loved so much by the Māori people here in the district, so much so that he gifted this land for our people for educational services we as Wairarapa have never truly benefited from his gift and the Māori Educational Trust are selling his gift to pay their debts. our people are bloody angry but we have had to go through this whole process and occupation I can tell you from a Kahungunu person from Wairarapa Tamaki we are just that incensed.”
Robin told Billie Jo that some progress has been made and they have managed to contact one of the purchasers of the farm and whānau involved will be having a discussion with him next week.
Native Affairs has followed this story over the last few weeks and the stories can be viewed below