August 11, 2023
Huata defiant as court fight fails
Hawke’s Bay man Wi Huata says he’s not leaving the whenua at Bridge Pa where he and wife Donna Awatere Huata have been living for more then 30 years, despite an appeal against a High Court judgment that they have no grounds to stay on it.
Since a 20-year lease with the Huatas expired in 2019 the Mangaroa 26N2 Trust has been trying to regain possession of the 17 hectare block, which Mr Huata moved on to in 1986 after what he says was a handshake deal with trustee Nick Wall.
Over the years the block has been used for pig farming, orcharding and a kohanga reo, but in recent years most of it has been subleased to a farmer for growing lucerne for stock feed.
Mr Huata says he had the right to buy the land under the 1999 lease agreement, but the High Court ruled last year that the option was not valid and binding when it was given, and in any case no sale proposal won the required level of support from the trust’s 180 beneficiaries.
Mr Huata says while he has abandoned his appeal to the Court of Appeal, he intends to go back to the High Court – and if that fails, seek leave to go to the Supreme Court.
“I don’t want to get to that stage in my life where I’ve had regrets for not fighting harder and if it means us having to invest a heck of a lot more money into this, then so be it, but in 10, 20, 30, 40 years time I still want to be able to look my mokos in the eye if we lost this land and say I did everything possible to fight for this land,” he says.