Luxury island could be out of reach for hapū who want it returned

  • 19/03/2021
An aerial view of the island.
An aerial view of the island. Photo credit:

Tangata whenua who want a unique multi million dollar island returned to them may miss out, as the island is already under contract to be sold.

Motukawaiti, also known as Step Island, is located off Matauri Bay and valued at $22 million.

The luxury resort on the island includes a massage and sauna room, six bedrooms and four kitchens.

Stuff reports former MP and Ngāti Kura​ kaumātua Dover Samuels​ is advocating for the island to be bought by the Crown, and returned to Ngati Kura and other hapū who have a connection with the land.  

The island is wāhi tapu, and was an important shelter for Māori when fishing further off-shore, as well as a source of muttonbirds, he said.

Samuel spoke directly to Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis​, as well as Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little​, about the Crown’s obligation to buy the island.

Stuff reports it could be possible through the $150 million investment fund created by the Crown earlier  in the year to cover Treaty of Waitangi negotiations- but it could be too late.

The real estate agent marketing the island, James Law, said it is under contract.

Nothing is set is stone yet as Law says four previous buyers have fallen through, due to failing to secure funding. 

It's been on the market for a year but due to its unique location - you need to charter a boat to get to it - it's proving difficult to sell.