Smith whānau dispute new lease to minority shareholders

Bruce Smith and his family have been fighting for almost two years to have Te Tumu Paeroa (The Māori Trustee) removed as the responsible trustee of their family farm in the Ruakituri Valley. They've been issued with a trespass notice despite the family saying they have a 60% shareholding in the land.

Emerging from their final court hearing at the Māori Land Court in Gisborne  the family continue the fight to keep their farm.

“We haven't been treated fairly at all, there is a lot of things that are under the cover with this I'm not too sure what Te Tumu Paeroa is up to, we're not the only case that this happened to, it definitely needs to stop,” says Cole Smith.

The Smith family took The Maori Trustee to court over its decision to award a new lease to minority shareholders, despite the family having a 60 per cent share in the land situated near Waikaremoana.They want the trustee out and want the court to rule in their favour.

“Nowhere in the world does 40 per cent beat 60 per cent there are a lot of things that are underlying with this so it definitely needs to be uncovered and we're going to do our best to do that,” says Cole.

In a statement Te Tumu Paeroa says it has acted in the best interest of all the owners and consideration was given to the Smith whānau's shareholding, lease history and connection to the land.

The farm is a sprawling 790 hectares, a farm they've worked for three generations, a farm they say they can manage without Te Tumu Paeroa.

“We're more wiser now and we'll be more active with how we approach including external parties in our land for the future,” says Kreslea Smith.

It could be several weeks before the Judge's final ruling. And because of this, Te Tumu Paeroa refuses to comment further.