The battle over Lake Horowhenua is heating up again - this time
over ownership rights in the Supreme Court.
Activist Philip Taueki is appealing one assault conviction after a confrontation with two boaties on the grounds he has a right to forcibly evict boaties if they are misusing the lake owned by his tribe.
His lawyer says he did not cause them bodily harm.
Gerard McCoy QC told ONE News: "He repeatedly stated 'this is my land', now he was unequivocally conveying you could not come across my land, the boaties well knew they had a dirty boat and the boat was too big."
The case is significant because it is testing Taueki's rights of ownership over the lake.
He claims he can legally evict lake users with "reasonable force", because the iwi trust that represents the lake's Maori owners has given him permission to protect it.
About 1500 people with Muaupoko ancestry claim ownership.
The Crown argues Taueki does have some rights to use and fish in the lake but has no rights of possession.
Crown Lawyer Fergus Sinclair said: "In answer the question who has actual control of this place we say in fact and in law, it is the board."
It says an agreement between the Crown and local iwi in 1905 to create a public reserve took control of the lake away from the trust and gave it to a Government appointed board.
"It also makes clear that those rights cannot be exercised in a way that interferes with the public enjoyment of the area," Sinclair said.
The Supreme Court will ultimately decide who has the right to manage the lake.
It is one of the country's most polluted and Taueki says a clean up is desperately needed.