Maori land protesters are vowing to continue their fight at two Taupo sites despite angry scenes as 13 people were arrested for trespass, including a 64-year-old woman.
In a double-pronged operation yesterday morning, police arrived at 7am at a Taupo District Council-owned house and section at Wharewaka, near Taupo airport, and at a multimillion-dollar subdivision near Acacia Bay to issue trespass notices on two separate groups.
Both groups had earlier been asked to leave the sites by Taupo District Council and Auckland-based developers Symphony Group.
Council deputy chief executive Anne McLeod said a trespass notice was issued yesterday at Wharewaka after discussions broke down with a Maori sovereignty group calling itself Mataara Tiger and Barbara Wall Whanau Hapu Maori Incorporation, which had occupied the house.
About 30 police moved on to the site and arrested a man, 38, and a woman, 31, when they refused to leave.
Ms McLeod said the group, all members of Waitahanui hapu Tutemahuta, had made claims for 282,000 hectares of land between the Waikato and Tongariro rivers and moved into the former Landcorp-owned house about two months ago to highlight their cause.
The council had offered to act as a facilitator between the group and government departments but the offer had been refused, Ms McLeod said. "We made considerable attempts to talk to the group and have tried to treat all parties with respect, but progress stalled."
Near Acacia Bay, another protest group occupying the $80 million Parawera subdivision said they would carry on their protest in spite of being evicted.
Eleven Ngati Rauhoto hapu members, including a 64-year-old woman, were arrested and charged with trespass after police converged on the subdivision yesterday afternoon.
The group oppose the decision taken in 2004 by the hapu trust, Hiruharama Ponui Trust, to lease the 19-hectare site to Symphony Group for 80 years.
The group refused to leave the site after occupying it for three weeks.
Spokesman Geoff Rameka said the issue was about whanau, and the land being developed was considered wahi tapu, a sacred site.
The group was not associated with Maori sovereignty issues or land claims, he said. "The battle has just begun in earnest."
Negotiations with the developer about leaving the site broke down at a meeting on Tuesday night. The group was issued with a trespass notice by Symphony Group about midday yesterday.
Buildings erected on the site by the occupiers are to be dismantled. All those arrested have bee remanded on bail to appear in Taupo District Court