Maori Claimant Makes A Plea For Return of Ancestral Airport Land

TAKIRI COTTERILL has told the Kapiti Independent it’s finally time for justice for former Maori landowners who have never received henest treatment after their land at Paraparaumu Airport was taken over by Government for the WWII effort.

Her plea is now being supported by Kapiti Mayor, K Gurunthan ( see separate article).

She says: “My whānau have been living in Paraparaumu for at least 9 generations since our Tupuna, Ngāti Puketapu of the Te Atiawa iwi, settled here from Taranaki in the 1820’s.

Takiri Cotterill

My Grandmother was one of the original owners of the land which was taken in 1939 (under the Public Works Act 1928) for an airport for defence purposes during WW2.

At the cessation of the war, instead of returning the land, the Crown continued to hold the land for general airport uses. 

Generations sought return of land

Our generations of whānau have each taken their turn to seek the return of airport land which is part of their Ngāti Puketapu hapū estate.

In February 2018 our whānau gave our evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal of the various prejudicial actions of the Crown which has resulted in the airport lands being transferred into the private ownership of a succession of land speculators.

Land ‘ripe for the plucking

(They) … have have seen the airport as land ripe for the plucking wanting only to divide it up into commercial and residential properties to sell off at an immense profit.

The subsequent rezoning of the Airport land by KCDC is helping consecutive private owners to whittle off our ancestral land for profits.

It’s time our people are given our long-due justice. The Crown must take the appropriate steps to return our ancestral land. 

Paraparaumu Airport in 2011

 When Air New Zealand withdrew its service in 2018 our community response was so heartening, not only to keep an air service operating but also to preserve this unique taonga (treasure) which is integral to Paraparaumu’s identity,

I believe our ancestral land has its own voice and heart and I continue to pray for it remaining intact and whole. 

Once again we are facing the possibility of losing our airport and access to our ancestral land.

Awaiting Waitangi Tribunal ruling

While supporting the Airport stakeholders, and the continued sustainability of an operational Airport, we are awaiting the Tribunal’s recommendations on our claim which could include a statement on this land. 

We cannot make any recommendations until the Tribunal’s findings are delivered. 

Our greatest hope is for the return of this land and we ask the Council to back our appeal to the government for the return of our ancestral land. We will then be in a position to work with our communities on a vision to benefit the district and our people 

The worst thing for me would be if my grandchildren could not look upon their ancestral land (as they can now but only hold a deep grievance that their lands were sold off for transitory profit of people who don’t even live here. 

t.cotterill@xtra.co.nz

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