Cultural snub if land bill hearing not held on marae, says hapu
Failure to hold the public hearing for a controversial land bill at Te Atiawa's Owae Marae would be regarded as a slap in the face for the hapu, a spokeswoman has said.
The Maori Affairs Select Committee has received 66 submissions regarding the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill.
If passed into law, the bill will pave the way for Waitara leaseholders to buy the land their houses sit on, sites which were originally confiscated in 1865 by the Crown from Te Atiawa and two hapu groups Otaraua and Manukorihi.
A public hearing on the bill will be held in Taranaki on November 18 but a spokesperson said a venue for this has yet to be confirmed. However, it previously stated options in New Plymouth and Waitara were being considered.
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But Manukorihi hapu spokeswoman Patsy Bodger said no booking had been made at Waitara's Owae Marae, a place which is arguably Te Atiawa's most important meeting point and a site closely connected to the confiscated land at the heart of the proposed legislation.
Bodger said the hapu had explicitly stated in its submission it wanted the public hearing to be held at Owae Marae and she was aware others had also indicated the same desire.
"That's where we want it, at Owae Marae, that is the logical destination."
She said the timing of the public hearing - November 18 - also clashed with well established dates of significance to Parihaka, which fall on the 18th and 19th of every month.
"That wasn't taken into consideration for a start," she said.
She felt the process had been rushed and had expected the hapu would have had more time to prepare its oral presentation to the select committee.
"Obviously they want to rush it through," Bodger said.
Bodger said the content of Manukorihi's submission had reinforced the same views the hapu had previously expressed.
"It's actually a stance that we've never wavered from. The stance is return the land you stole," she said.
It will not be known until Wednesday how many of the submitters requested to speak to the select committee, who is due to deliver its recommendations to Parliament in March next year.