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Ed Sheeran

Hobson's Pledge tries to roll Tauranga land return

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A Tauranga Māori historian says the council needs to stand up to a campaign by Don Brash's Hobson's Pledge group trying to overturn a decision to return a block of land to Māori.

Buddy Mikaere says the council had agreed to return a section next to the historic Elms Mission Station on Te Papa peninsula to a trust representing Ngāti Tapu and his own Ngāi Tamarāwaho hapū.

The land would be leased to the Elms Trust, in what seemed an elegant solution that acknowledge the mana of tangata whenua while keeping the land's existing use.

But with elections looming, some councillors called for the proposal to go out for public submissions, and after initial strong support Hobson's Pledge sent out a call for it to be opposed - leading to hundreds of negative and racist submissions, many of them anonymous.

"I'm not sure whether this council has the bottle to stick with their original decision but these submitters only represent a small percentage of the total votes in Tauranga so the councillors should have the courage to stay with their original decision because it was the right one and why should you be influenced by an organised campaign by a group of people who are clearly anti anything Māori," Mr Mikaere says.

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