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27 November 2020

Land court case raises all sorts of interesting issues

Friday 2 June 2017 | Published in Smoke Signals


“I read with interest the ‘watching the land growing’ smokie in Wednesday’s CI News, as I was also an observer in court, a smoke signaller says.

“The case mentioned was particularly interesting because it highlights the disunity evident within families. One of the objectors was a niece objecting to an application for a confirmation of a lease from an aunt and uncle. I thought that when a meeting of assembled owners was held and the majority of owners agreed, that that was it. But it is apparently not the case. The court was told that there were two meetings of assembled owners and in both meetings the majority of landowners from two families supported the application. When the objector was asked why she had not objected at the meeting, her response was that everyone at that meeting was confused as to the area being asked for. She also told the court she was confused by the legal jargon used by her uncle, who is a lawyer. However, not only is the objector a landowner who represented her family branch to share their family land, she is also a Justice of the Peace. Surely Justices of the Peace should be familiar with the legal jargon used by lawyers. In the end I guess, it’s all pretty confusing.”


“At the recent land court sitting the matter of a customary title dispute was before the court,” the same smoke signaller says. “The objectors claimed the applicant held a meeting with his own kopu, when in fact he should have included all of the kopu tangata. The applicant referred to the kopu tangata who were not from his own family line as “outsiders”. It’s the first time I’ve heard family members being referred to as “outsiders.” Obviously they’re not familiar with Maori custom.


There are already several contenders for Driver of the Week. First there’s the balding, middle aged local man who rode his motorbike from Arorangi into town early on Sunday afternoon, clearly very drunk. Not only was he unable to drive in a straight line, he continually veered over the centre line and now and again drove on the wrong side of the road, head-on into traffic, before swerving back on the correct side again. Then on Tuesday night, two local motorcycle riders enraged someone driving a rental car by riding side by side all the way from Panama to the Nikao turnoff, going extremely slowly and deliberately preventing the car from overtaking them. The rental car tooted a warning, and then moved right up until it was just a couple of feet from the back of the motorbikes, edging ever-closer. If the bikes had slowed suddenly, they would have been knocked over, with serious consequences for the riders, who of course were not wearing helmets. The driver of the rental car could have been in deep trouble too. “It’s the worst instance of dangerous driving I’ve seen on the island in years,” a smoke signaller says. “And that’s saying something. Unfortunately some young motorbike riders continue to ride side by side chatting to each other and deliberately blocking traffic – and they seem to get away with it all the time.”


The same smoke signaller says he was tempted to tell the police about both incidents but has decided never to do that again, after once calling them about an instance of high speed dangerous driving. “The next day two police officers called at my workplace. I was out, so they told the receptionist to give me a message saying wanted to talk to me about the confidential call I had made the night before! It would be funny, were it not so serious.”


“The smoke signal about the selection of the Matavera Demo Party candidate is a jolt to the system, a smoke signaller says. “If the information is correct, then the situation is an abuse of process and must be remedied immediately. If an approach to the Demo hierarchy to ensure a fair and transparent process falls on deaf ears, then the candidate ought to launch a court challenge. We need to stamp out corruption at all levels of politics.”


A young visitor got more excitement that he bargained for just before he went snorkelling for the first time this week. Feeling something ‘hard’ in one of his reef shoes, he peeled it off, to find a large and very angry centipede wriggling around. “How he wasn’t bitten is a mystery,” his aunty, a local resident, says. For the remainder of their visit the visitor, his mum and his older brother made sure they carefully checked their shoes every morning – as well as their clothes and bedding. They’re now safely back in New Zealand, with some out-of-the-ordinary memories of their two weeks on the island.