Winston Peters urges Govt action at Kaitaia Airport

  • 09/09/2015
Winston Peters (Getty Images)
Winston Peters (Getty Images)

Northland MP Winston Peters is challenging the government to step in and immediately restore order at Kaitaia Airport.

A protest at the airport is in its second day after flights were disrupted in a protest over who owns the land.

About 40 Ngati Kahu members remained at the Far North airport this morning after camping through the night outside the terminal.

"This is an important facility for all Northlanders, but the government has flicked it off as an operational matter for the police," Mr Peters said.

"Great Barrier Airlines is losing business just when it started flying to and from Kaitaia, filling the gap left by Air New Zealand."

Mr Peters says Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson should sort it out.

Ngati Kahu hasn't settled as part of the Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill, which will return the land to the other four iwi involved. It claims the airport land was taken from a family during World War II.

The iwi's chief negotiator Margaret Mutu told RadioLive the iwi wanted the government to acknowledge the iwi as its rightful owner.

"The problem was started by the government and it was in their hands to fix it up.

"They need to acknowledge that it's our land. They have in the past and there's never been any problem until Ngati Kahu wouldn't accept the full and final settlement the government demanded and when that happened they decided they would give it to someone else," Prof Mutu said.

Police say yesterday's protest meant one flight departed without any passengers and a flight from Auckland, due to arrive at 5pm, was cancelled.

Far North area commander Inspector Wendy Robilliard says Tuesday's protest had been peaceful but there was potential for problems if an emergency occurred on inbound flights.

The three flights a day to and from Kaitaia often carry medical staff and supplies and patients, she said.

Barrier Air is ferrying passengers by bus to and from Kerikeri for Auckland flights.

NZN