Writers back NZ author in land dispute

A group of prominent authors have added their support to a campaign against the Government taking land from renowned writer Patricia Grace.

Witi Ihimaera, Dame Fiona Kidman, Dame Anne Salmond, Sir James McNeish and Dr Paul Moon have signed an open letter to the Government condemning it for taking Grace's Waikanae land under the Public Works Act in order to build the Kapiti Expressway, which is part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, a "road of national significance".

The letter, which was initiated by Mana magazine, says Grace's land is a special case that deserves to be exempt from the current plan.

"Patricia's land is Maori freehold land but more than that, it is land of historical significance. Patricia has inherited this land from her tipuna, her great, great grandfather Wi Parata Te Kakakura. This Government has either done no research into the significance of Wi Parata and this land or has simply ignored the facts."

The campaigners said in a statement the letter was being released to coincide with Waitangi Day "to remind the Government and New Zealanders that this is no way to treat a national cultural figure in the 21st century".

" It also raises the wider issue of the Government failing to learn from history and repeating the same mistakes of the past, mistakes that are acknowledged in the many treaty settlements and apologies from the Crown."

The statement said Grace had been treated in a "shabby way" by the Government as it ignored a history where her family gave large areas of surrounding land for the settlement of Waikanae.

Grace, 76, has been made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for community service, she has received a Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement and has been appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

-  Full letter can be seen here 

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