July 19, 2019
Court calls end to land lease rort
A long running battle over occupation of a northern Hawkes Bay Māori land block had a sequel in court yesterday.
Bruce Smith, his wife Ruby and daughters Jarna and Kreslea appeared in the High Court at Napier after being arrested for failing to comply with Māori Land Court orders.
Justice Christine Grice released the family from custody on condition they not return to the farm near Lake Waikaremoana.
Bruce Smith and his six siblings hold a 60 percent of the shares in the 790ha Waipaoa 5A2 block through the estate of their late father Francis Guthrie Smith, with the balance owned by more than 500 shareholders.
Until 2016 Mr Smith leased the land from the trust and sub-leased it at a profit while continuing to live on the farm.
The former Māori trustee said this was not fair on the other owners and ran an open tender.
In November 2016, the Māori Land Court ordered Mr Smith and his family to remove themselves and their possessions from the property within seven days, but they continued to fight the order, including erecting a gate blocking access to the land.
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