The Crown and representatives of hapu around Wairoa in Northern Hawke's Bay have signed a Treaty settlement deed set to involve one of the biggest financial redresses in the history of Treaty of Waitangi claims.
Financial redress of $100 million is proposed for the settlement between the Crown and mandated authority Te Tira Whakaemi o Te Wairoa (Te Tira), initialled by both parties at Parliament yesterday.
Te Tira will now start a ratification process leading to a vote among members of the hapu, more than three decades after the initial Wairoa claims were lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal and with hopes of the actual settlement being signed in Wairoa with legislation to be passed in Parliament by the end of the year.
If ratified by the iwi and hapu, this will be the fifth-biggest Treaty of Waitangi settlement in terms of financial redress.
Te Tira chairman Tamati Olsen said the initialling ceremony was a powerful milestone in the negotiations process and a significant day in Wairoa's history.
"The progression of Treaty of Waitangi claims against the Crown has a long and important history in Wairoa, stretching back to the early 1980s," he said. "Our goal has always been to achieve the best result for our iwi and hapu, and we believe this settlement will allow us to move towards a better future - economically, socially and culturally."
Whakaemi is made up of seven clusters representing iwi and hapu across the Wairoa district, including Rongomaiwahine (Ngai Te Rakato), Ngati Rakaipaaka, Whakaki Nui a Rua (Ngati Hine, Ngati Hinepua, Ngai Te Ipu and Ngai Tahumatawhaiti), Ngati Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa (including both Te Wairoa Tapokorau 1 and 2) and Nga Tokorima a Hinemanuhiri.
The Wairoa-Waikaremoana Maori Trust Board are also part of Te Tira in representing the interests of Ngati Hinemihi, Ngati Hinehika and Ngati Hinganga.
Te Tira will stage hui throughout New Zealand from July 22 to August 7 for the people to get more information, register as members of the iwi and to vote on the settlement.
"For our settlement to go ahead, we need our people to vote in support," Mr Olsen said. "We want everyone to be a part of this. It's our chance to build a better future for our whanau, our tamariki, and all the generations after them."