Kāpiti Mayor K Gurunathan says he fully supports the call by some of the original Maori owners of the Kāpiti Airport for the Crown take steps to return their ancestral land.
The land was taken under the Public Works Act for defence purposes in 1939. It was not offered back after the war.
The Mayor says: ‘I welcome their offer, upon the return of the land, to work with the community to develop a vision that will prosper their people and our communities.
I can understand that the Crown decision to sell their ancestral land into private hands in 1995, without offering it back to them, has deeply wounded tangata whenua.
As a local journalist who covered the Maori land occupation at the Airport
following the sale I witnessed their angst and mounting grievance.
About 30 of them were arrested for trespassing on their own ancestral land.
I am also aware that council, as the consenting and regulatory authority subject to the RMA, had limited ability consider the land ownership claim.
It was a matter for the Crown to address.
It was encouraging, back in 2018 when ANZ pulled its service out of Kāpiti Airport, to see the Puketapu Hapu join our airport stakeholders and our community to fight for a continued air services and the preservation of an operational Airport.
Last year, I was at the Waitangi Tribunal hearing where the deep-seated grievance over the systematic alienation of this ancestral land was aired.
The Tribunal’sdecision is still pending.
I urge our Airport stakeholders and our communities to join the call by mana whenua for the Crown to take all the necessary steps to return their ancestral land and finally deliver the long overdue justice and restore the mana of the original owners.
As mayor, I welcome their magnanimous offer that upon its return they will “Be in a
position to work with our communities on a vision to benefit the district and our