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Land returns into the hands of local iwi

20 Feb 2023

Buller District Councillors will seal the deal this Wednesday to sell a piece of land near Carters Beach to the Department of Conservation (DOC) to be returned to local iwi.

The land treasures a significant and well preserved historic archaeological site dating back to 1330 AD and contains rare examples of early Polynesian settlement in Buller.

Te Runanga o Ngāti Waewae iwi engagement manager Ned Tauwhare says: “This was a place where our ancestors first arrived and where taonga relating to them have been found. There has previously been little protection for the site despite its importance.

We're looking forward to being able to protect, preserve and promote the mana of the site in the future."

Department of Conservation’s Western South Island Director Operations Mark Davies said it was a great example of collaboration between local government and iwi.

“It's a significant contribution to restoring the mana and cultural values of iwi. We'd like to acknowledge Buller District Council for the leadership they have shown and sincerely thank Te Runanga o Ngāti Waewae and Ngāti Apa Ki Te Ra To for their patience during the process.”

In 2021, Council resolved to facilitate the return of the site of significance, at Carters Beach, back to local Iwi. As part of the process, Council will now consider changing the classification of the reserve on the western portion of the land from Local Purposes (Harbour Purposes) reserve to Historic Reserve under the Reserves Act 1977 this week.

The paper before Council this week will seek approval for the change in classification which will better reflect the values of the reserve. DOC can then purchase the land and transfer it back to Te Runanga o Ngāti Waewae, and Ngāti Apa Ki Te Ra To Council’s group manager community services Krissy Trigg says: “Since 2021 we have been working closely with our legal advisors, DOC, Te Runanga o Ngāti Waewae, and Ngāti Apa Ki Te Ra To on an agreement for sales and purchase of this special site.

Ms Trigg says: “This sale ticks all the boxes. It returns the land into the hands of the people who can best look after it, protects the significant historic archaeological values, strengthens our partnership with Te Runanga o Ngāti Waewae and Ngāti Apa Ki Te Ra To and utilises the land to the best benefit of the Buller community.”

Currently there is very little protection in place and there is a risk of physical damage or destruction to the site if it is not well managed. Reclassifying it and returning it into the hands of the local iwi will rectify this.”


The sale is following council’s 2021 – 2031 Long Term Plan (LTP) property rationalisation strategy.

This strategy sets out to identify opportunities to rationalise council owned buildings and property
through sales of surplus land and buildings over the 10-years of the plan.

If council endorses the report the land will be sold to DOC for the sum of $200,000 (plus GST if any).

The report was considered in public excluded to enable Council and the Department to negotiate a


For more information please contact:
Group manager community services
Krissy Trigg