Māori residents say they will take action

By Wena Harawira

Māori residents of Matakana Island are warning people who want to buy and build on the remote island in the Tauranga harbour. They're opposing plans to build more than 100 houses in forested areas on the island and they say any new homes will be burned down.

The warning from Matakana residents to outsiders who want to buy land and build homes here is loud and clear.

Nessie Kuka (Resident) says, “You're not welcome here. You're not welcome to build on this island.”

Locals are angry about the Environment Court decision allowing 103 homes to be built on Matakana. As a result they're warning if houses do go up, they'll be burnt down.

Kuka says, “We're coming to a head now, so we're pretty resolute in what we say here.

TKC Holdings has already started building a road to one property. The downturn in forestry has driven the company and Carrus Corporation to sell its forestry land on the island.

That has frustrated the Māori residents' Matakana Island Trust. It owns 23% of the shares in TKC Holdings but the Pākehā shareholders have ignored calls to keep the land instead of selling it.

“This is the biggest green space left in Tauranga Moana and our role is to keep it that way,” says Kuka.

In 2011, the Environment Court scrapped a housing development by Blakely Pacific. In October Matakana residents will be back in court seeking Outstanding Natural Landscape status over the island to protect its endangered flora and fauna.

Kuka says, “This is an old issue. We've gone through all of the scenarios, the good, the bad and the ugly. And 2016 we're right back there. And I must say when we do go to the Environment Court it seems to be the only place where we get to have our say and not be ignored.”

The warning has been issued and the iwi is standing firm.