The Maori Land Court has overruled opposition to waka tohunga Hekenukumai "Hec" Busby creating a place where people can learn traditional waka construction on his land at Aurere, 4 kilometres west of Taipa.
Mr Busby bought the 115ha Okokori B block in 1966 and has convened whare wananga there since the 1980s.
In 2008 he applied to the court to set aside 2.5ha of his land as a Maori reservation for the purpose of whare wananga for kaupapa waka.
The application was supported by Parapara Marae chairman Chappy Harrison and by a letter from Taitokerau District Maori Council secretary, Lady Emily Latimer.
A hearing was held on May 8, 2008 and, in a reserved judgement handed down recently.
Judge David Ambler said that Mr Busby was "somewhat taken aback" by Reece Burgoyne and Tina Lee Yates opposing what he saw as a longstanding kaupapa for the benefit of present and future generations.
Mr Busby contemplated withdrawing his application on the spot, but the judge persuaded him to convene a hui with the Ngati Tara people of Parapara Marae, which took place in March, with four of the five people who attended supporting the application.
When the application came back to the court on September 17, Mr Burgoyne, Kelvin Piripi and Lavinia Sykes opposed it, challenging Mr Busby's ownership of Okokori B, with Mr Piripi claiming the land should be returned to its "rightful owners" the Ngati Tara.
The judge told them that while some Ngati Tara may have unresolved grievances, that did not negate Mr Busby's title to the land. In 2008, Mr Burgoyne had said he could produce evidence the whole of Okokori was an urupa (cemetery), but he failed to do so. He said
said there had previously been urupa on the land, but the bodies had been uplifted and taken to Parapara Marae about 1896.
In September, Judge Ambler outlined his research into the urupa question and concluded there were no valid objections to the reservation, which will be known as the Te Awapoko Waka Wananga Reserve.
Mr Busby had told the court he wanted the reservation to be set aside for the benefit of the trustees of the Hekenukumai Trust, which is apparently the guardian of the whare wananga.
Judge Ambler directed him to provide a copy of the trust's deed of trust before next Friday so the court can make a final decision on who should be the beneficiaries of the Maori reservation.