Iwi to celebrate historic day

By Michele Hunter

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Ngai Te Rangi chairman Charlie Tawhiao will sign the Deed of Settlement with the Crown at Whareroa Marae this weekend.
Ngai Te Rangi chairman Charlie Tawhiao will sign the Deed of Settlement with the Crown at Whareroa Marae this weekend.

A four-day event will mark the signing of a $35 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement between Ngai Te Rangi, Nga Potiki and the Crown this weekend.

The deeds will be signed at a ceremony at Whareroa Marae in Mount Maunganui on Saturday, which will be attended by Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson.

Ngai Te Rangi iwi runanga chairman Charlie Tawhiao said the settlement, including cash, land, and the right to first refusal of land purchases, was worth an estimated $35 million to $40 million.

Mr Finlayson said Ngai Te Rangi and Nga Potiki were the final groups to sign individual deeds of settlement in the Tauranga region.

"This is very significant for the iwi, who suffered terrible losses as a result of raupatu [confiscation] and other breaches by the Crown, which have had consequences to the present day. It also means that all parties can now concentrate on finalising the Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective settlement for the shared interests of the iwi and complete all historical settlements in the Tauranga area."

Mr Tawhiao said organisers would cater for 500 to 1000 guests at the marae, to mark the important milestone in the treaty settlements process for Tauranga Moana.

Separate settlements would be signed between the Crown and Ngai Te Rangi and the Crown and Nga Potiki, a hapu of Ngai Te Rangi.

Mr Tawhiao said the signings represented years of work - a lot by people who had not lived long enough to see it through to completion.

"Our people have come a long way in the 150 years since our tipuna were dispossessed of our tribal lands and resources. Lives were also lost in that war and the impacts are still felt by our people today. This weekend will be the start of a healing process that is long overdue. For those of us who grew up with the stories from our elders of that time the events of this weekend will be a fulfilment of their wishes that the wrongs of the past are righted.

"I am looking forward to seeing our mokopuna, our rangatahi and our elders join together to mark this significant occasion," he said.

Celebration of the settlement would begin with prayers on Mauao at 5.30am tomorrow. On Saturday the 11.30am signing ceremony would be followed by a whanau day at the marae and concert at Papamoa Tavern.

Sunday would celebrate the tribe's relationship with the sea, and include a harbour cruise, waka ama and paddle boarding.

On Monday, the tribe would hold a business workshop for their youth where the focus would be on doing business in a global economy, followed by a celebration dinner.

"Our Treaty settlement will add to an already significant presence of Maori investment in the local economy. Wise local investment is vital if we are to continue to fulfil the wishes of our elders that we resume our rightful role as leaders of our Tauranga Moana community," Mr Tawhiao said. Saturday's signings are the final stage before legislation is passed to fully implement the settlements.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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