Māori whānau battles to win back Taranaki land

A block of land in North Taranaki has a long and complex history. There are two trails of paperwork and now two different families believe the whenua is theirs.

Haumoana White is adamant it's whanau land, but a Pākehā family was awarded the title by the Māori land court in 2014. 

"Our feet and our bones are too far into this land," says Mr White. "Our blood is here. We've always occupied it."

The Poutama Kaumātua didn't even know someone else laid claim to the land until a local land owner appeared on his doorstep.

For the past four years, Mr White has been embroiled in a court battle to get his land back.

The confusion goes back to the 1920s when Mr White's uncle, Kereni Wetini, agreed to sell some of his land to a Pākehā farmer.

The sale stalled but by 1933 it was back on the table and, according to court documents, a certificate of confirmation was issued by the Māori Land Board confirming that the Pakeha farmer had paid the agreed price for the land.

However the sale was pending some conditions, and the money stayed with the Māori Land Board.

Mr White says the conditions weren't met so the original sale was never completed. He also adds that his family never received a penny for the land. 

Since 1933, the block of land has changed ownership three times with just the memorandum of transfer. At no point in history did their names appear on the land title - that has always stayed in Māori hands.

Despite the judgements going in favour of the Pākehā owners, the White family will continue to fight in court.

They have cemented their links to the land by building a small wharenui on the whenua.

Watch the full segment on The Hui.