Christian farmers blocked from court in land dispute

A Christian farming couple, Peter and Caroline Raikes, have been blocked from taking their case to the Court of Appeal.

They opposed the declaration of part of their land as a culturally significant site for Māori, citing religious reasons.

The Raikes own Titiokura Station near the Napier-Taupō Road.

Seventy hectares of their land were included in a proposed “site of significance” in the Hastings District Council’s district plan.

The proposal came after the land was identified as wāhi taonga, meaning it holds cultural value, by the Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust. This trust represents a collective of hāpu in Hawke’s Bay, with around 6000 people.

The Raikes argued against the proposal in the Environment Court, claiming that the evidence presented included unsubstantiated cultural beliefs and myths conflicting with their religious beliefs.

Their opposition to the district plan has faced a lengthy legal process since 2018, involving the Environment Court and High Court. Despite a High Court decision against them, the Raikes attempted to bring the case before the Court of Appeal this year.

They contended that the Environment Court made several errors, including relying on “cultural evidence” about tītī hunting and a historical trail near the Titiokura Saddle.

The Raikes argued that tītī hunting primarily occurred along the Napier-Taupō Rd and dismissed evidence of a larger area as unverifiable “myth and legend”.

In one submission, Peter Raikes criticised the trust’s claims about the significance of the Maungaharuru mountain range to Māori as being “suspect and false in entirety”.

He believed that Māori lore, including stories of Ranginui (the Sky Father) and Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother), contradicted the Bible, which he considered divinely inspired and indisputably true.

Despite their efforts, the Raikes’ case has been denied further progression to the Court of Appeal, leaving unresolved concerns about land usage restrictions and the clash between cultural and religious beliefs.


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News category: New Zealand, News Shorts.

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