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Crown pays $23.5million compensation

Crown pays $23.5million compensation for Vested Lands issue

Media statement Embargoed until 1530 14 July 2008

The Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation said today that the settlement of the vested lands issue was a time to look back and reflect and a time to look forward.

The Crown has paid $23.5 million to the Incorporation to settle its claim for compensation for the costs and losses resulting from the Vested Lands. It is similar to a settlement with owners of Maori Reserve land in 2002.

In 1902 101-thousand acres of undeveloped land owned by Maori between Ohakune and the mid reaches of the Whanganui River was vested in Maori Land Administration Act. It was supposed to be returned developed in 42 years (2 x 21 year lease periods). Through a series legislative changes to the way the leases were administered it proved impossible for the Maori owners to reclaim the land until very recently.

In 1970 all of the leases were brought into one title under the Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation.

Incorporation Chairman, Dana Blackburn said since its creation nearly four decades ago the Incorporation has worked towards resuming and managing all of the vested leases.

Between 1970 and 2005 the Incorporation was able to resume 36,749 acres. In 2003 a decision was taken to resume 35,839 thousand acres of leases all due to expire on the 30th June 2005.

Mr Blackburn said resuming total control of the farms created another set of problems for the incorporation.

“A number of the farms came back to the incorporation in terrible condition and have needed millions more spent on them.

“One five thousand acre block was divided into just four paddocks and had not had any fertiliser put on it in 80 years,” he said.

Resuming the leases over the last three years and the capital expenditure required to bring them up to proper production has so far cost the Incorporation over $30m.

Mr Blackburn said today’s settlement with the Crown will go a long way to paying off that debt as well as allowing the Incorporation to implement a significant farm development plan.

We have substantial plans for the future that will eventually allow our people to benefit from the progressive thinking of their tupuna (forebears) over a century ago.


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