November 04, 2016
Missing airport title key to trespass defence
The district court in Kaitaia has finished hearing evidence against six people charged with trespass over the occupation of Kaitaia Airport, with ownership emerging as a major issue.
Last year’s occupation was to reinfierce a claim the airport land go to Ngati Kahu, rather than be shared in a treaty settlement with neighbouring iwi Ngai Takoto.
Ngati Kahu Runanga chief executive Anahera Herbert-Graves says the crown was challenged to show its title to the land, but all it could come up with was a gazette notice saying it was taken during World War 2 for use as a airfield.
"Several of its own witnesses had said there was no title during the time it was pushing the case. So that was very interesting, and for all the bush lawyers up here they felt that should have been grounds for the case to be dismissed immediately, because if you have no title it's problematic as to how you were able to order somebody off the land that you have no title to," she says.
The court is waiting on written submissions, and Judge Greg Davis indicated he would release his judgment and sentence the group if necessary on December 5.
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