New Zealand's Minister for Maori Development has advised a Maori group attempting to claim a portion of land in Parramatta to think again.
Led by Lady Crown, a group of Rangihou people fronted the Federal Court this week in an attempt to sue the City of Parramatta Council for a 112-acre plot of land it claims was gifted to their ancestors.
Speaking to NITV on Thursday during a fact finding visit to Australia, Minister Nanaia Mahuta said she was aware of the group’s claim and did not support it.
“My advice is that when you’re away from your own Indigenous lands, you must respect the people of the land who come from that land,” she said.
“Any rights that you have, should be taken back to New Zealand…. the rights that they can absolutely assert are in their own country.”
Crown says the block of land in the heart of Parramatta was gifted to her ancestor King Te Ruki Kawigi of Ao Tearoa in 1811.
Recorded histories of Maori visits to Parramatta agree British pastor Samuel Marsden gifted a portion of his farmland to the Rangihou people for a limited amount of time before it reverted back to his ownership.
But Ms Crown told NITV News that is untrue. She claimed an Aboriginal king called Corrangie, who Ms Crown said was the adopted son of Marsden, gifted the land.
“It’s not a land claim, it’s a reclamation,” Ms Crown said.
“He was an Aboriginal king and it was witnessed and written by the magistrate and Reverend Samuel Marsden – he had no power to gift anything, he didn’t own it, he’s merely a witness.”
The Darug people are the traditional owners of the land in question. A spokesperson said they were not aware of the case until media reports began circulating earlier this week.
Ms Crown and the claimant group made headlines earlier this year when they started changing locks at a local football club and attempted to charge commuters for on-site parking.
They fronted the Federal Court this week to pursue an official claim for the land as well as financial compensation for damages. But Ms Crown says it’s not about the money.
“I don’t care about the money, but we needed to put that in to get into court” she said.
“The land is to come back to the family group – it is to be reclaimed by the family group – the Maori and Originee family group entwined, so we can uphold our customs, our values, our traditions, and our culture on the land.”
A Parramatta Council spokesperson told NITV News the council disputed the claim and had already applied to the Federal Court to have the case dismissed.
The 112-acre parcel of land includes James Ruse Reserve, Robin Thomas Reserve, the Rangihou Reserve, and a section of the Parramatta River.