Maori taking land off Maori?

Protesters and supporters at the south Wairarapa dairy farm they have occupied. The land was gifted to Maori by its Pakeha owner in 1962, but has now been sold.

Caleb Harris/Fairfax NZ

Maori protesters have occupied a farm donated to iwi by a Pakeha farmer 50 years ago, but which has ended up being sold off by another Maori organisation to pay its debts.

Members of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa moved on to the 320-hectare dairy farm south of Featherston on Sunday in a peaceful occupation,  to draw attention to their dismay over the sale.

“That’s the thing that hurts – this is unique,” iwi spokesman Ian Perry said. “Pakeha have taken land off Maori, but this is Maori taking land off Maori.”

Edward “Ned” Holmes gifted the farm in 1962 to a Crown-administered foundation that later became the Maori Education Trust, so that income it generated would help educate Wairarapa Maori.

The land, known as Mapuna Atea, is now worth more than $10 million.

The trust has granted millions of  dollars for Maori education nationwide, but Wairarapa iwi had always felt Holmes’s original intention was not honoured, Perry said. That was even more the case now that the land had been sold to private investors.

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