The Proposal for the Whenua

Te Tono

1990 to Now

Since 1990, the land has been used for:

  • Farming
  • Planting and harvesting approximately 20Ha of pine trees
  • Extraction of sand for royalties

And we have improved the land by:

  • Planting native trees and fencing wetland margins
  • Creating a right-of-way providing access to the adjoining Māori land blocks and another owner in Tumu Kaituna

Today, the two main uses of the land are winter grazing and sand mining.

The sand mine is managed by Stevenson Aggregates. We have used these activities to fund the block’s operational costs and to set ourselves up for future opportunities.

As trustees, we have actively looked (and continue to look) for development opportunities. This includes working with the neighbouring land blocks on a Structure Plan for the future urbanization of the entire Te Tumu area, including the Tumu Kaituna 14 land block.

 There are now new opportunities for beneficiaries to gain from the land, including those that may arise from the proposed Government post Covid-19 economic recovery packages.

What we stand for – The Whenua

We stand for the following values:

  • The land is a taonga. It is not for sale
  • We continue to recognise and respect our connection to the land
  • We seek to protect our cultural heritage, identity and significant parts of the land
  • Development is an investment in all our futures, and those of our nga uri

We can help secure our future by creating housing, employment, education and recreation opportunities. This includes owning the buildings and returning distributions to beneficiaries.

Given the number of beneficiaries within Tumu Kaituna 14 (approx. 5050), we consider it important for us to move forward together as a collective group. Our land provides us all with a significant opportunity. It has been passed down from our ancestors and we have the ability to use it for our collective advancement.

Development Proposal

Our key goal is to retain ownership of the land. Because of the number of beneficiaries, we believe the best plan is to focus on developments that provide benefits over time. We want to do this in a commercial way, because we believe that this approach will achieve the best outcomes for all of us.

There are significant costs associated with this, but also mutual benefits. For this reason, it is important for us to build good partnerships with our neighbours and make sure the associated costs are fairly shared.

To achieve this, we want to put in place a range of short, medium and long term leases so we can retain ownership and still benefit from the whenua. We can then build, own, and lease out the buildings, whether they are used for housing or light industrial buildings. This gives us the most flexibility and opportunity for the future. As much as we can, we will design, build and own all buildings using our collective talents.

Over time, we have explored a number of opportunities to develop the land however these have not been successful. This is because some uses of the land, like farming or cropping, are not viable because of its coastal, sandy soil. Now, with the growth in Tauranga, we can move ahead with work that will provide long-term returns back to our beneficiaries.

Over the past several years we have been working with the Tauranga City Council and neighbouring landowners to prepare for the eastward growth of Pāpamoa. We are now ready to work together to make the most of this opportunity in a way that fits our values and fulfils our responsibilities to beneficiaries.

At the same time, we have continued to stay engaged with our beneficiaries. We held a series of consultation hui in 2017 and received strong support from face to face talks with our people. After that we connected with a wider group of beneficiaries through a postal vote.

We sent voting forms to all beneficiaries with contact addresses recorded on our register. From that vote we received clear support to go further with our proposal.

We have continued to stay connected with our beneficiaries. We held a series of consultation hui and received strong support from face to face talks with our people.

The trustees consider the best option of all beneficiaries is to:

  • Build a clear plan outlining our aspiration and vision for our land block
  • Work with our neighbours to co-operate and develop partnerships for mutual benefit
  • Work with the Tauranga City Council and Government to encourage investment in infrastructure
  • Make use of development opportunities to provide benefits, grants and distribution to beneficiaries

Over the past 20-plus years, Tumu Kaituna land has been investigated for future urban development (light commercial, residential and recreational) as part of long term planning under the SmartGrowth strategy. SmartGrowth focuses on planned and sustainable growth in the Western Bay of Plenty.

More recently, Tauranga City Council has completed the Te Tumu Strategic Planning Study and has begun detailed investigations into a proposed plan change for the Pāpamoa East-Te Tumu areas. The Tumu Kaituna 14 trust land is part of this investigation.

Before we can benefit from these initiatives, we need to have infrastructure funded to our boundary. After that we need to develop infrastructure (like water/wastewater and roading) within our own block and to connect us with our neighbours.

There are significant costs associated with this, but also mutual benefits. For this reason, it is important for us to build good partnerships with our neighbours and make sure the associated costs are shared fairly.

What we want How we can achieve it
  • Remain in control of our own destiny and future
  • Develop our land in consultation with beneficiaries : borrow money against the land to fund development and generate income from it through leases
  • Work as active and respected partners at the table with Council and other parties to ensure our own priorities are met
  • Provide education and health facilities on our land
  • Create an education precinct – working with the relevant government ministries and partners to deliver a high school and other socially important facilities
  • Provide housing opportunities for our people, and others within our hapori
  • Create a range of housing opportunities for our people and the wider community
  • Maintain and enhance our peoples’ connection to the land
  • Create an active cultural centre which will recognise who we are, highlight Tumu Kaituna’s rich history and to provide a place for hui and other gatherings.
  • Protect our heritage sites, our dunes and river margins
  • Ensure there is no development on important ecological sites, urupā, and other precious parts of our land block
  • Provide recreational sites for our people and the broader community
  • Create an active reserve incorporating a community sports field, gym and other recreational facilities. We can deliver this with Council through a long-term lease.
  • Create an oceanside campground for beneficiary use year-round. This would include a utility block and caretaker

The trust has willingly and actively participated in the planning process in order to protect places of significance and the most unique aspects of the natural environment and provide for long term results for our beneficiaries.

Our Court Application


We have been working in consultation with our beneficiaries to make our vision for the land a reality. After three hui and a postal vote in which our beneficiaries encouraged us to go ahead with our development goals, we lodged an application with the Māori Land Court.

Part of that application was to change some (approx. 50 ha) of our land’s status from Māori land to general land. We also wanted changes to the Trust Deed that would allow us to have trustee rotation and other changes.

We made the application to allow us to take action on our development plans.

In order to benefit from our land (and in time return benefits, grants and distributions to our beneficiaries), we need a significant amount of money at the outset. This is so we can take part in planning and pay for important infrastructure. Right now we don’t have the money and banks will only lend against a fraction of the true value of Māori land.

If we are able to change the status of some of the land, we can borrow against it. That will let us raise enough money to take the first steps.

Our application was clear, the land is not for sale, and without finding a funding source, we cannot move ahead.

But our application was not just about funding opportunities. It was also about updating our Trust Order including allowing us to:

  • Introduce Trustee rotation so we can bring in new talent with experience and qualifications and ideas to deal with the mahi ahead of us
  • Update Trustees remuneration to current levels
  • Formalise Owners being able to vote in accordance with their shareholdings and by postal vote
  • Improve distribution options and set up a charitable trust so we can distribute profits back to our whanau or support iwi/hapu groups and provide education opportunities for our mokopuna

In October 2018 the Māori Land Court declined our proposal, we subsequently lodged an appeal in 2019 with the Māori Appellate Court. This is because we believe the original decision was wrong.

The Maori Appellate Court delivered its decision on 9 April 2020. The Court’s decision was in two parts:

  • Firstly to decline the Trust’s appeal of the original decision by Judge Coxhead of the status change application on the basis that the Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the application unless a partition application was lodged at the same time, and
  • Secondly to allow the Trustees appeal in part on the variations of the Trust Order subject to further owner’s consultation and to then take these matters back to the Maori Land Court.

Due to the short window of time allowed to lodge an Appeal, in order to protect the Trust’s position and based on initial legal advice received, the Trustees have decided to appeal the first part of the latest decision to the New Zealand Court of Appeal to resolve questions of law. If these questions are left where they sit it will adversely affect any future development proposals that the Trust may wish to progress via the Maori Land Court.

For example the Trust did not submit a partition application because that contemplates a separation into different ownership which is not what the Trust asked for. While we don’t like incurring ongoing legal costs it is important the legal issues are clarified so we can move forward and not waste the 4 years that we have been in this process.

It is important to know that most of the discussion in the Court was on the change in status to general land, but when it dismissed our application it also dismissed the other changes we were seeking that had the majority support of owners.

We have tried to communicate the ideas and potential outcomes to our beneficiaries and to the Court and we want to communicate further on how we can make progress.

The Variations to the Trust Order will be reviewed and reconsidered as we look to identify if there are alternative ways to unlock the development potential of the Trust without access to development funding via securitisation of the land.

The proposed Government post Covid-19 economic recovery packages may open up new opportunities that did not exist previously. Rather than rush into premature owners’ consultation we will take a little further time to explore these matters further and bring back clear and researched updated development proposals.

We will keep you updated update you on our News/Rongo hau page with latest developments, so please keep checking this site. We will also contact all beneficiaries we have contact details for, so please update your information with us.

You can see the applications we have made to the Māori Land Court here. You can see the Maori Land Court’s decision here. You can see the Maori Appellate Court’s decision here.

Tumu Kaituna and Tauranga City Council

The Trust is part of a relationship agreement with the other main Tumu Kaituna landowners and Tauranga City Council.

Here are our objectives and aspirations as part of that agreement;

  • Help beneficiaries keep ownership of the majority of their lands for their future generations (note: in order for the land and the Tumu Kaituna area to be urbanised, road and infrastructure corridors need to be vested in Council. This could happen by way of land exchange)
  • Recognise and provide opportunities for owners, whānau and the wider community to reflect the cultural heritage and history of the lands and the area
  • Promote and enable the establishment of uses, places and spaces that recognise and provide opportunities to reflect the cultural heritage and history of the area
  • Support the delivery of the SmartGrowth ‘live, learn, work and play’ philosophy
  • Ensure that the project and associated infrastructure is financially viable taking into account the Trust’s primary objective of retaining ownership of the majority of the lands for future generations
  • Provide for a Papamoa East Town Centre that is wider than the defined town centre core/fringe (in the Wairakei urban growth area) and includes residential development and wider employment opportunities
  • Provide for schooling, institutional uses, mixed-use and residential opportunities that will support and complement both the town centre and wider Papamoa East areas
  • Ensure that the infrastructure provided to and within the Tumu Kaituna urban growth area is:
    • future-proofed to provide for future land use change and growth both within and around Tumu Kaituna
    • efficient, cost effective and fit for purpose
    • resilient to natural hazard risks
    • designed and delivered to accommodate future changes in infrastructure design and delivery
  • Provide an integrated transportation network that:
    • is future-proofed to provide for future land use change and urban growth both within and around Tumu Kaituna
    • accommodates the provision of on- and off-road cycling and public transportation
    • enables efficient connectivity to and within the new urban growth area
  • Ensure that constrained land (ecological, cultural, landscape, and natural hazards) is appropriately managed recognising that the Trust will retain ownership of these areas