January 15, 2019
Former Ngāti Tama stronghold back on market
A Ngāti Tama historian is urging his iwi to look at buying back an island that used to be the home of one of the tribe’s premier rangatira.
Maheipuku or Pepin Island in Nelson has been put on the market for $16 million by its German owner, whose mother bought it in 1996 for $2 million.
Nelson’s mayor has suggested a crown funding campaign to buy it, but John Mitchell says that doesn’t address Ngāti Tama’s need to reclaim an important part of its heritage.
He says the island, which is now connected to the mainland by a causeway, was once part of the 18,000 acre Wakapuaka block owned by the iwi, but was sold in dubious circumstances in the 19th century.
Other areas also were sold or taken under the public works act, so just 3000 acres remains.
The island was the home of Te Pūoho ki te Rangi, who led a section of Ngāti Tama from the North Island to Te Tau Ihu in the 1820s.
Dr Mitchell says it’s hard to fathom the price tag, and he wants the iwi trust to commission advice on the possible value of the land for farming or tourism so it can make an offer.
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