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Ed Sheeran

Waitara Bill sweetened for hapu
Waitara township taken from Manukorihi Lookout ©

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New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom says getting the Waitara Land Bill to the second reading astage is an historic moment for New Zealand.

The bill to allow lessees to freehold land now owned by the New Plymouth District Council sparked strong opposition from iwi who were frustrated in their desire to get confiscated land back in their treaty settement.

Mr Holdom says the council has benefited from land stolen from the Manukorihi and Otaraua hapu of Te Atiawa, and the bill needed to balance the interests of the hapu, lessees, and the district and regional councils.

The Maori affairs select committee has recommended amending the bill so that half of the New Plymouth District Council's hare of rent or sales proceeds will go to a fund for the hapu to buy land in or around Waitara.

The rest will go to the regional council to improve water quality, and to a trust made up of council and hapu representatives to use for community projects.

"This isn't going to be paying for roads and sewerage and all that. (The council) has got to do that. This is the cherry on the top for Waitara so they get to choose whether it's scholarships for the young people or some sort of community initiative. It's about taking a past injustice and turning it to a positive future and for me that is real progress," Mr Holdom says.

Some 780 leasehold properties are covered by the bill.



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