'Get rich' schemes avoided after claim success

By Patrick O'Sullivan, Lawrence Gullery

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Many consultants have approached Ngati Pahauwera since its historical Treaty claim was settled promising to "make us richer" but one of its negotiators and spokesperson, Toro Waaka, has had to "send them on their way".

The hapu, representing families from the Mohaka district northeast of Napier, reached the completion stage of its historical claim against the Crown in the past year, after it had begun in 1991.

The redress package included a Crown apology, financial redress of $20 million and cultural redress involving 16 sites, about 1087ha to be vested in Ngati Pahauwera, subject to specific conditions including protection of public access.

The claim relates to the failure of the Crown to ensure Ngati Pahauwera retained sufficient lands for its future after land alienation that began in the 1850s.


 


Tania Hopmans is deputy chairwoman and lead negotiator for Maungaharuru-Tangitu Incorporation and explained the history of the claim the hapu is negotiating with the Crown at the Te Pohue meeting.

The claim also relates to the failure of the Crown to provide adequate support when Ngati Pahauwera suffered severe loss of life and property after the Crown ignored warnings of a possible attack on Ngati Pahauwera communities at Mohaka during the New Zealand wars. The Crown had failed to monitor the impact of further land purchase activity, including its own. By the mid-20th century, Ngati Pahauwera were left virtually landless and that had contributed to their economic, social, and cultural impoverishment.

Mr Waaka said the hapu was looking at feasibility studies for a number of land investment options, such as forestry.

These would focus on trying to generate greater value from unused Maori land blocks.

"I can't say too much but it's about assisting our people who have multiple-owned land, not being used, to look at opportunities.


"And there are some opportunities out there but we have to be smart about it because we're living in difficult economic times and we want this claim and its benefits to be intergenerational."

Mr Waaka said the biggest challenge for the hapu was managing the expectations of its people and helping families understand the need to develop plans and policies as the "guiding tools".


"People want to see the benefits immediately but if we went out on a big spending spree it would all be done and dusted within five years so there are hard decisions to be made in order to think long-term."


It was important any investment the hapu made contributed to the independence of its people.

"We are trying to promote independence and what we don't want is to use this claim for dependency. We need to look at Treaty claim success in the Bay projects that will return value and growth of our assets for the future."


 


Garth McVicar, a Te Pohue resident, was one of the speakers from the community worried about the future of the Te Pohue Domain, which may be transferred to Maungaharuru-Tangitu Incorporation as part of a redness package from the Crown. The meeting heard access to the domain would stay the same.

Some paperwork still needed to be completed with the Crown, around land titles, definition and regulations of who the parties are which had a legitimate right to be part of the settlement.

"One of the reasons or the catalyst for this claim was our concern about our rivers and we did get a fund from the Crown to help us to better look after the river land, because if you look after the land, the land will look after you."

Mr Waaka said the Treaty claim process had been exhausting but was successful because the hapu had worked hard to keep its families informed every step of the way, as best it could. Some potentially exciting times lay ahead but it should be travelled with caution, he said.

"I would say that the prospects in terms of economic and social development will make it very exciting for our people but you can't get ahead of yourself.

"We have some good financial advisers to help us minimise the risk in the current tricky economic environment while we sort out our investment plans.

"We are in no hurry and taking it slowly is the best approach. We've had a lot of offers from people wanting to help us get richer but I've had to send them on their way."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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