Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa confirm land sold by Māori Education Trust will be returned

By Lynette Amoroa

Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa iwi are rejoicing over the news that land originally gifted and sold by the Māori Education Trust is now destined to be returned.

Whānau from around Wairarapa turned out to hear the news that the current owners of Mapuna Ātea want to sell the farm back to iwi.

A vote was put to the floor, giving mandate for the Crown to purchase the farm as part of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui a Rua's Treaty settlement claim.

Hone Oneroa says, “It was difficult to please everyone.  In the end we collectively agreed to proceed forward.”

The Māori Education Trust was originally gifted the farm by a Pākehā farmer, Ned Holmes in the 60's for the benefit of local Iwi.

But just this year, the Māori Education Trust sold it to private ownership to pay off debt.

Edwin Perry says, “It has been difficult but we are now looking for a favourable result of getting Mapuna Ātea back as a top-up to our quantum.”

In April this year, whānau of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa occupied the land to draw attention to their disappointment over its sale.  Their concerns were heard and came as a surprise to the new owners.

Hone Oneroa says, “The Crown did wrong in the first place leaving out Te Wairarapa whānau within Hinewaka, today it was announced and understood that the Crown is now a way to return the land back to the whānau.”

Crown representatives will meet with the owners next week in Taranaki to talk about the buy back options.