But they are running out of time to reclaim the Vaerota land block and declare it a national reserve, as the remaining 44 years on the lease hits the international market.
Family representative Vaikai Mataiapo Tutara Sonny Daniel said one alternative piece of land had already been offered to leaseholders Richard Ireton and Jessica Lennan, but they had rejected it.
He said that was understandable, as it would have cost a lot to clear the land to provide road access. “Basically, it did not match the price tag of Vaerota and it would be an expensive start for them,” said Daniel.
Yesterday, family representatives met the couple to offer another piece of land, which they hoped would be satisfactory.
Liam Kokaua, who contested construction on Avana Point in the hope of preserving the ancient makatea rock on its foreshore, said: “No one can expect the Kainuku family to afford to buy it back.”
“It needs government intervention, they should buy the land, and with permission of the land-owners turn it into a permanent cultural reserve which will mean no development will ever take place.”
Secretary for Cultural Development Anthony Turua said government had recognised the land’s significance, but the land-owners must complete an application to declare the land a reserve.
“Until the landowners can resolve their conflict, our hands are tied,” said Turua.