Opponents of the Mt Messenger bypass on State Highway 3 have accused Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) of unlawfully authorising a survey of the road's proposed new route.
In an open letter to the minister, Taranaki farmers Debbie and Tony Pascoe - whose land the highway will pass over - say they were not properly informed about the survey of the Mangapēpeke Valley.
They claim a LINZ officer usurped the minister and authorised Waka Kotahi to complete a cadastral survey under the Public Works Act Section 23(1)(a) - Intention to Take Land.
The Pascoes said that meant Damien O'Connor was unable to negotiate with the Pascoes in good faith about the nature of the survey as required under Section 18 of the Act.
The beef cattle farmers, who lost a High Court appeal to stop the $200 million project in August, now want a face-to-face meeting with O'Connor to negotiate a way forward.
"For the avoidance of doubt, the Pascoe whānau are not seeking, or consenting to, a compulsory entry for surveyors to carry out a Section 23(1)(a) cadastral survey," the letter said.
"The Pascoe whānau are seeking an 'other' or 'non-cadastral' survey to define the construction footprint, and specific features such as springs and the Mangapepeke wetland, to inform potential Section 18 (prior negotiations required for acquisition of land for essential works) negotiations."
The farmers and their supporters Ngā Hapū o Poutama said LINZ actions gave the impression Waka Kotahi had the statutory authority to negotiate the compulsory acquisition of the land when they believed that was the role of the minister and LINZ.
A spokesperson for Land Information New Zealand said under delegation from the minister, it had authorised Waka Kotahi and its agents to enter the property owned by Tony and Debbie Pascoe to carry out a survey.
"This authority is made under section 110 (not section 23) of the Public Works Act 1981 so Waka Kotahi can define land needed for its Te Ara o Te Ata Mt Messenger Bypass Project."
The spokesperson said as part of the process for acquiring land for public works, Waka Kotahi engaged LINZ accredited suppliers to carry out negotiations on behalf of the Minister for Land Information.
"The supplier reports to LINZ on the negotiations and LINZ, under delegation from the Minister, will make decisions on any agreement reached, authorise access to the land or decide whether to issue a notice under section 18 of the Public Works Act, which confirms that the Crown wishes to acquire the land."
If agreement could not be reached, Waka Kotahi might seek a s23 Notice of Intention to take land. In this case, the minister would make the decision.
"LINZ understands that Waka Kotahi and its accredited supplier have tried to negotiate with the Pascoes since Waka Kotahi served a s18 Notice of Desire to Acquire land and tried to meet with them before Christmas but no responses were received," the spokesperson said.
"A LINZ official also offered to meet with the Pascoes to clarify roles and responsibilities. LINZ and Waka Kotahi continue to try and engage with the Pascoes to address property matters."
Surveyors are due on the Pascoe land on 11 January.
Meanwhile, the Pascoes and Ngā Hapū o Poutama have filed an interlocutory application for a recall of the High Court decision which will be heard on 18 February.