Justice Minister Andrew Little has been served a trespass notice in the Bay of Plenty which he has labelled "meaningless".
Little, also the Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, confirmed to Newshub he was served the trespass notice on Friday by Ngai Tamahaua, a hapū or division of Whakatōhea, a Māori iwi located in the eastern Bay of Plenty.
In a press release on Tuesday, hapū chair Peter T Selwyn said an "official" intercepted and halted Little's limousine on Waiotahe Bridge State Highway 2 on Friday at around 4:48pm.
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"Our official identified Mr Little in the rear seat and after the chauffeur had read the trespass notice it was handed through the window of the limousine and Mr Little was then told verbally that he had been served."
Little confirmed to Newshub on Tuesday that a man had stopped the VIP car he was in on the road and handed the driver a piece of paper that "claimed to trespass me from the Bay of Plenty".
"I understand the chap is from Whakatōhea although he doesn't represent anybody," Little said. "In terms of going back to that region, I will be going back to that region. The trespass notice is meaningless."
Little explained that the Whakatōhea iwi have "a number of issues going on at the moment, there's been a challenge internally to their mandate".
"The [Waitangi] Tribunal started an inquiry into some of the issues, but the Crown is continuing to talk to Whakatōhea about anything it can do to support Whakatōhea.
"I've been dealing with Whakatōhea people, including those parts of Whakatōhea who are concerned about the mandate and indeed opposed to it. It's important that those engagements are able to continue."
Little said he was in the region that day for discussions with a different iwi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui.
"We were signing their agreement in principle which is the first kind of milestone in terms of getting an actual agreement."
He said he knows that the Whakatōhea people "want the same, but we've got to work with them very carefully through their issues so that nobody's left out or left behind".
He said the man who served him the trespass notice "isn't helping".
"As often happens with iwi, internal issues emerge, and then the Crown has to be very careful that it doesn't just sort of barge ahead," Little said.
"That it deals sensitively with the people who claim to represent Whakatōhea and those who are concerned about the representatives and make sure that the process has integrity - and that's what we're doing."
Little said the driver reported the trespass notice to police, and said he is yet to give his own statement.
"It's now in the hands of police."