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Iwi should 'definitely' get airport land back

Iwi should 'definitely' get Paraparaumu airport land back –

MP Statement by Tariana Tura,

MP for Te Tai Hauauru

9 April 2008

Local Maori MP Tariana Turia has said she is 'very disappointed' that the Kapiti District Council has pressed ahead with a decision in favour of developing Paraparaumu Airport.

"The Council should have held off making a decision, until Te Whanau a te Ngarara had a chance to work through Public Works Act issues with the Crown," said Mrs Turia.

"The Crown is primarily at fault, and the government must step up and take ownership of the problem, and responsibility for settling it," she said.

"However the Council is now complicit in the fault, because its hasty decision makes any resolution more difficult.

"Te Whanau a Te Ngarara are suffering a clear injustice, and it's time all parties started working together to sort it out. Instead they are passing the buck.

"The whänau should probably never have had their land taken in the first place, but now that part of it is not being used for aviation, they should definitely get it back," she said. "It's another Raglan Golf Course."

"The clear intent of the Public Works Act is being defeated by procedural trickery. The offer-back provisions should have been triggered when the airport was first sold, but they weren't, because the land was still being used for aviation.

"The council's agreement this week to a plan change, is simply a way of declaring part of the land surplus - without actually doing so - in order to avoid triggering the offer-back provisions once again.

"The excuse is that the "ancillary" purposes, such as large scale retail stores and service stations, are necessary to keep the airport economically viable. This is a gross stretch of the Public Works Act requirements and should not be tolerated.

"Every step in this sorry saga is taking the land further out of reach of the rightful owners. The Council latest decisions have failed to consider the effect on the whanau's relationships with their land. Who will now compensate this whänau for their loss?" Mrs Turia asked. "The tragedy is that if the Whanau a Te Ngarara were given a proper chance to have their say, it is possible a solution could be found to benefit everybody, and the district as a whole.

That was also the conclusion reached by the Auditor General in the 2005 report into the sale of the airport by the Crown - that the consultation had not been adequate to fully appreciate the concerns of the original land owners.

"I note widespread support for the whanau was expressed at the public speaking time prior to the Council making their decision. Community citizens, ratepayers and organizations who are not associated with the Maori landowners stood in support of their case," said Mrs Turia.

ENDS

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