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Ed Sheeran

Last gasp Tauranga council blocks land return to hapū

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Tauranga City Council has reneged on a commitment to return a block of land next to an historic mission house to mana whenua hapū.

Councillors opposed to the return last month made it conditional on the approval of the Elms Foundation, which looks after the house.

When the trust agreed the land should go to the Otamataha Trust representing the two hapū, councillors yesterday voted for it to instead go to a trust representing both the foundation and the trust - which means in effect the decision must be made by the incoming council.

Historian Buddy Mikaere says it is being used as an election issue.

"Several of the councillors including the mayor, in their election publicity material, said they would not vote for the land at Mission St to go to the Otamataha Trust. They had already made up their minds before the vote which is not how things should be so there is a strong move to to refer the whole decision to the Auditor General for review," he says.

Mr Mikaere would also like to hear from the Anglican Church, whose Church Missionary Society was originally given the land by Māori.

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