Will Northland public reserve end up in non-Māori hands?

By Dean Nathan

For nearly 20 years, there has been ongoing opposition to plans by the Far North District Council to grant a local businessman the rights to use a public reserve. Today, the contentious issue came before the council's community board.

It's a public reserve on the Bay of Islands shoreline where some locals vehemently oppose granting the rights to use it to businessman Doug Schmuck who owns the neighbouring boatyard.

Maiki Marks says, “We don't think it’s right! The Reserve Act legislation doesn't allow it either. It’s public land for all of New Zealanders and not meant for the purposes of one man's business interests.”

Today, the matter was once again addressed, this time before the community board.

Mike Rashbrooke says, “They've suddenly decided they can just give him this reserve.They can say, we'll give you these rights. Now there's been four formal public processes under the Reserves Act.

The DoC statutory decision is that these easements can't be granted.”

Mayor John Carter wasn't prepared to speak on camera while the matter was before the board, but told Te Kāea today that over $800,000 of ratepayers money had been spent on lawyers dealing with this case and that on their advice, council would continue to pursue the matter.

Maiki Marks says, “The battle over this land has exhausted me, but I won't stop until the land is retained for all New Zealanders.”

The community board is expected to make a recommendation on the matter this afternoon.