“The Matata property rights case, while geographically remote, should be a case of national interest,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

The saga has played out over 15 years since a mudslide at Awatarariki and independent commissioners now side with the Whakatāne District Council, who would like to extinguish the residents’ right to use their property.

“It is one thing for councils to put in place zoning that restricts how property can be used. In this case the Council is telling the rightful owners of the property that they must get off and stay off their property. The approach to compensation is take it or leave it.

“Obviously this is distressing to the residents. They would not have spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting the council for the right to stay on their land if they did not value the right being taken off them. They would not do so if they thought the compensation offered fair and reasonable. They are fighting for property rights they value.

“People up and down New Zealand should be watching this case very carefully. It fits into a context where property rights as a concept are being eroded up and down New Zealand: 

  • Race Courses are losing their rights under the current Racing Bill.
  • West Coast farmers are seeing their property rights lost as parts of their farms are declared ‘Significant Natural Areas’
  • Firearm owners lost their property rights when Parliament banned their property
  • Landlords are losing their rights to control their own property under the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill
  • The Prime Minister favoured squatters of legal property owners at Ihumātao

"If residents at Matata challenge the Council in the Environment Court, and I hope they will, all property owners in New Zealand should take a keen interest in the outcome. It will decide if it is possible for a Council to extinguish your property rights for what they think is your own good."