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Waitara Leaseholders Left Hanging

Waitara Leaseholders Left Hanging

Wednesday 31 Mar 2004 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

The New Plymouth District Council may have done a deal with Minister Margaret Wilson that allows it to pander to its historical conscience, but it should not simply abandon its tenants living in Waitara today, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"The council must remember that its prime duty should be to people living in Waitara now - not the ghosts of people hard done by 150 years ago," Mr Franks said.

"An earnest request to the Minister, when handing over the property, to take account of leaseholders' wishes to own the land they live on is no substitute for making sure they get the freeholding option when the council has the power to do it.

"A simple solution would have been for the council to attach a condition to its sale to the Minister, requiring that leaseholders be given a freeholding option before the remaining land is handed over to Te Atiawa.

"Nothing said at last night's meeting explained why this was not done. Who would it have hurt, when both the council and Te Atiawa were at pains to say the deal would not dislodge leaseholders, and that they could stay on the land in perpetuity?

"Whose interests were councillors looking after when they asked Ms Wilson to give `consideration' to doing for leaseholders what the council could have so easily done for them itself?

"For over a decade, tenants had been led to believe that the council was doing all it could to allow them to freehold their houses and remove the blight that is inevitable over an area where people only have leasehold interests.

"The council has reneged, trying to label any who challenge it `rednecks' and unfeeling successors to the settlers who dispossessed Te Atiawa in 1860. This appears to be the classic case that so many fear from the Treaty grievance process - where new injustice is created in the name of dealing with ancient injustice," Mr Franks said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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