A dispute between landowners at the Whangaehu River mouth and a group of evicted bach owners who claim they have rights to be there could be headed to court.
Rakautaua Trust 9 chairman Casey Paki said the landowners wanted to return to their land. The trust desired a peaceful solution and had tried to accommodate the bach owners, who it said had been squatting on the land for many years.
The trust had given them 100 days to vacate and remove their dwellings.
Two bach owners told the Chronicle they were unhappy with the notice. Steve Baron, of Wellington, said his family had occupied the land at the river mouth for 100 years. They were originally given permission by a farmer to build a bach.
Mr Baron said they were prepared to fight their eviction in court. He added that the original bach owners signed a memorandum of understanding with the trust that they would have a lifetime right to occupy, but that was now being ignored.
However, Rakautaua 9 Trust trustee and beneficiary Tohe Manawaroa-Te Awe Awe, who grew up at Whangaehu, said that in 1946 there was only a lean-to his family used when they went down to fish.
Mr Paki said the memorandum the people signed was for those individuals, and it stated that on the death of that occupier, the dwelling would not pass to "next of kin or otherwise". Any other person had to apply in writing to the trust.
The original intention of the memorandum was that the trust or the bach occupiers had to give 21 days to the other party if the bach owners were leaving or being given notice to vacate. Mr Paki said the trust felt that was unreasonable, so extended the notice to 100 days.
As well, each bach dweller was to pay a koha for being there, but Mr Manawaroa-Te Awe Awe said it had been a battle getting some owners to come up with the money.
Another issue for the trust was that QV was looking to re-rate the land because of the change of use.
Rangitikei District Council environmental services team leader Stephen Costelloe said that when QV became involved the council had to also look at the dwellings, and wrote to the trust outlining issues around building and health and safety compliances under the Resource Management Act.
Mr Paki said the trust sent a copy of the letter in April to the owners of 13 dwellings, with four weeks to provide feedback. Only two of them had replied. "There are 1100 beneficiaries to this land and we have to comply with legislation. The trust is just doing its job, but the beneficiaries want their land back," Mr Paki said.