School torched in Maori land row

Wellington - Police arrested 15 people yesterday as Maori demonstrators burned down an old school building in the latest of a spate of bitter protests over disputed land.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, spoke of his outrage at the behaviour of the demonstrators, who resisted up to 100 police when they moved in to enforce an eviction order, and said he would not allow "a few hotheads" to set the political agenda. Maoris criticised the government for its handling of the dispute, the latest in a series of confrontations which have highlighted racial tensions in New Zealand.

An Auckland University lecturer, Margaret Mutu, said Maoris, about 13 per cent of the 3.5 million population, were increasingly frustrated with the failure to resolve historic grievances over the loss of ancestral land. "I know there is a very strong mood in Maoridom now. We have waited patiently for the Crown to settle our claims," she said.

A radio reporter at the scene said protesters, including children, used torches to light a series of fires. Thick black smoke billowed from car tyres stacked outside the old school near Kaitaia, on the North Island.

Police said they arrested nine men and six women on charges of assault, trespass, obstruction and dangerous driving, and also detained two youths, aged 10 and 13, who were caught lighting diesel-soaked tyres.

One Maori opposition politician, Tau Henare, said ministers were partly to blame because of their refusal to tackle the dispute, which had rumbled on for more than six months.

Maoris have more than 500 claims outstanding for the return of lands they argue were confiscated by European settlers in breach of an 1840 treaty with the British. The government is struggling to win acceptance of a proposed NZ$1bn (pounds 430m) settlement package but refuses to discuss growing Maori demands for sovereignty, saying there can be only one state and one parliament.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders