Waitangi Treaty deal marks new era

By Sandra Conchie

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The deed of settlement signing ceremony for Ngai Te Rangi at Whareroa Marae. Photo/Andrew Warner
The deed of settlement signing ceremony for Ngai Te Rangi at Whareroa Marae. Photo/Andrew Warner

The Crown has signed a multi-million dollar Treaty of Waitangi claims deed of settlement with Ngai Te Rangi iwi and its hapu Nga Potiki.

The settlement deed, which was signed at Whareroa Marae on Saturday, includes financial and commercial redress of $26.5 million for Ngai Te Rangi and $3 million for Nga Potiki.

Cultural redress provides recognition of the traditional, historical, cultural and spiritual associations of Ngai Te Rangi and Nga Potiki with several key sites in the area,

This allows the iwi and the Crown to work together to protect and enhance the conservation values associated with several key sites in their rohe (territory).

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson signed the deed on behalf of the Crown, witnessed by 500 guests, Kingitanga representatives, and government officials.

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

Ngai Te Rangi and Nga Potiki's claims were based on both raupatu (confiscation) and post-raupatu actions and omissions of the Crown.

Mr Finlayson said the Crown's past actions and omissions meant that the iwi were left virtually landless, retaining only about two per cent of their rohe (territory), and their cultural landscapes and seascapes had been compromised and diminished.

"We can never fully compensate for these wrongs, however, this settlement will enable the people of Ngai Te Rangi and Nga Potiki to look forward to a stronger future.

Signing the deed of settlement is an important step toward settling all historical grievances in the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand as a whole," he said.

Ngai Te Rangi runanga chairperson Charlie Tawhiao said the settlement, which includes cash, the return of small parcels of culturally significant land, and the right of refusal of land purchases marked an important milestone in the Treaty settlements process for Tauranga Moana iwi.

"The signing represents the culmination of years of work, including by some who had not lived long enough to see the settlement come to fruition.

"Our people have come a long way in the past 150 years since our tipuna were dispossessed of our tribal lands and resources and the lives that were lost."

Mr Tawhiao said the signing ceremony was very well delivered by Mr Finlayson, including his apologies on behalf of the Crown and marked the start of long-overdue healing process.

Importantly, Saturday's settlement signing had none of the acrimony seen during some past Treaty signing ceremonies.

"Overwhelmingly the feeling was one of excitement. Everyone agrees the focus for us now must be on moving forward and looking to the future, and deciding where to from here. Discussions have already began on how to maximise this opportunity to invest in the future of Ngai Te Rangi iwi, including those of our young future leaders and mokopuna," Mr Tawhiao said.

Mr Tawhiao said Ngai Te Rangi's leaders were committed to involving young people in the decision-making process, and the settlement added to a 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," he said.

Today, the Ngai Te Rangi holds a business workshop for its youth where the focus will be on how to do business in the global economy.

It is the eighth deed of settlement signed by the Crown this year, and the 41st since November 2008.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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