Hui to seek united voice for lake land treaty claim

By Lawrence Gullery

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Descendants of a hapu preparing a Treaty claim for land around Lake Waikaremoana are being urged to attend a major hui next month to reaffirm who has the mandate to represent their views to the Government and the public.

Ngati Ruapani Ki Waikaremoana kaumatua Harry Waiwai said there had been a number of people making comments about the progress on the claim without the consent or full support of the hapu or its families.

"What we need is a clear mandate from the people about who they want to speak on their behalf," Mr Waiwai said. "And I believe there is going to be a hui at Waikaremoana in February where this issue can be sorted out. We need to come together as one. I believe that's possible and we can unite to be a strong force."

Mr Waiwai grew up in Waikaremoana and raised his family there, but now lives in Flaxmere.

Ngati Ruapani is represented by a claimant collective, Te Toi Kura o Waikaremoana, and its spokesman is Vern Winitana.

Mr Waiwai acknowledged there were "mandate-seeking" meetings held around Waikaremoana and in other parts of the country where hapu members now lived, to gain consent for the collective to represent the people.

"But I believe there should have been one major meeting, at Waikaremoana, where all of the iwi members could attend and put their views forward on who should have the mandate to represent us," he said. "I don't believe that has happened and I am hoping this meeting coming up in February at Waikaremoana will address this issue and allow everyone to have a say. The decision on who should represent us should be made at Waikaremoana, not from various meetings held around the motu [district]."

Mr Waiwai said there were thousands of people connected to the hapu now living out the Waikaremoana district and he hoped they'd find the time to attend next month's hui.

There were a number of claims at Lake Waikaremoana which overlapped. The Crown agreed to a deal giving Tuhoe guardianship over Te Urewera National Park in September and the two are to work on a deed of settlement as the next stage of the Treaty claim.

Ruapani ki Waikaremoana share whakapapa or genealogy with Tuhoe but regard themselves as separate from the iwi.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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