March 23, 2021
Controversial island back on market
Ngāti Kura kaumatua Dover Samuels wants the government to buy an island in Northland’s Matauri Bay that has been lost to tribal ownership.
The former MP says a 1996 bid by a Ngati Kura trust to buy the 38-hectare Motukawaiti or Step Island for under $1 million was overruled by the Māori Land Court, and it has since gone through a number of owners.
The current owner, Jun Zhang, who acquired it through a controversial 2010 purchase that was probed by the Overseas Investment Office, has put it back on the market for $22 million.
Mr Samuels says it’s important to the hapū of the area, which own the rest of the Cavelli group apart from DoC-owned Motukawa.
"I used top sleep there when I was a little boy with my grandfather, we used to go fishing there. It was a place of rest for our people when they went fishing and got caught in inclement weather. Now we have this island up for sale for $22m apparently. There are New Zealand agents out there who have this island on their list. I suggest they come and have a korero with the tangata whenua first," he says.
Dover Samuels says he’s told Te Arawhiti and the Minister for Treaty Settlements they should buy the island to either land bank for treaty settlement or transfer to the Department of Conservation so it stays in New Zealand ownership.
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