A long-protracted dispute over forestry in New Zealand could finally have a resolution in sight.
For several decades, members of Ngai Tama Tuhirae have blocked access to the Matahi Forest from time to time to press their claim. The dispute is about the ownership of the Matahi Forest in the Bay of Plenty and land on which pine trees are planted.
The land and the forest are owned by the joint-venture forestry investment company Matariki Forests, but are claimed by the Omuriwaka Incorporation and the Matahi Valley hapu Ngai Tama Tuhirae of Tuhoe.
In the interests of resolving the dispute, New Zealand’s government has offered $11.83 million to buy a 20-year forestry right over the Oponae Forest in the Waioeka Gorge, 6km south of Opotiki and the Matahi Forest near Waimana, 32km southwest of Opotiki.
As part of the deal, either Matariki Forests or the government can buy the other’s interests in the property during the 20-year term of the forestry right.
Forestry Minister Jim Anderton and Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen said the Matahi Forest land was the subject of a complex dispute dating back to the original purchase by the Crown in 1896.