|Sponsored by Kingston Strategic (NZ) Ltd|
Keep up to date with
Maori News on Twitter
Or follow the news on
Click above to access
the TKI RSS feed
Also click to see Te Karere
Ipurangi on Bebo.
Posted by karere under Maori News
King Country Maori have occupied a former Crafar farm earmarked for possible sale to Chinese investors.
Seven occupiers moved onto a property 22km east of Benneydale late yesterday afternoon.
Rereahu iwi spokesman Edward Moana-Emery said the occupation was a “last-ditch effort” to stop the sale of two Crafar farms they say are ancestral land.
Mr Moana-Emery said the properties on State Highway 30, totalling about 1900 hectares, were part of the iwi’s Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations.
He expected occupiers’ ranks to swell when news of their occupation spread.
“Our land was stolen from us in 1886 and we’ve been fighting for 126 years to get the land back. I hope this occupation will be over fast but if it isn’t we’re prepared to occupy it for as long as it takes.”
Mr Moana-Emery said Rereahu iwi were affiliated to the iwi consortium led by merchant banker Sir Michael Fay who is offering $171.5 million for the 16 Crafar properties.
In January the Government gave consent for Chinese investor Shanghai Pengxin to buy the 16 in-receivership North Island farms but a High Court decision last week effectively overturned Crown approval of the deal.
The court said Overseas Investment Office (OIO) officials and ministers did not correctly consider the economic benefits of the Overseas Investment Act criteria and ordered a reconsideration.
The Shanghai Pengxin offer is understood to be about $210m.
Mr Moana-Emery said the Government was determined to fast-track the Chinese bid.
“We’ve got the Chinese who are the new super power on the block and the Government is hoping to sell billions of dollars of exports to it. We’ve said all along that we are prepared to pay for the two farms, up to $32m, but the Government doesn’t want to listen.”
Mr Moana-Emery said the occupation would be peaceful and would not interfere with the running of the farms.
“We only plan to occupy one farm and we won’t disrupt farm workers going about their work. We also don’t have any animosity toward the Chinese. I think if the Chinese knew these two farms were stolen land they wouldn’t want to buy it.”
Occupiers have set up four banners on a sacred spot, off Pureora Rd, known as Nga Herenga.
Mr Moana-Emery was confident the group’s numbers would exceed 20 within a week.
“Once all our cousins living in Auckland hear about this they’ll come home. What we’re asking is that when they drive down from Auckland they pick up about four cousins on the way.”
A farm worker from an adjacent Crafar farm said she was fearful when first told of the occupation.
“I work on the farm next door and we’ve spent the day locking farm gates. I was worried men might try and storm into our home,” she said.[here]