New era marked by Treaty settlement

By Victoria White

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Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson signed the Deed of Settlement at Takitimu Marae on Saturday.
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson signed the Deed of Settlement at Takitimu Marae on Saturday.

A new era began this weekend, when the iwi and hapu of Wairoa received the fifth largest Treaty of Waitangi settlement to date and an apology from the Government for past wrongdoings.

In Wairoa on Saturday, a deed of settlement totalling $100 million was signed between the Crown and the iwi and hapu of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa, settling their historical treaty claims.

Whanau members of the original claimants were among those who gathered at Takitimu Marae to witness the signing, joined by MPs, Crown officials, iwi and hapu representatives.

Te Tira Whakaemi o Te Wairoa Chairman Tamati Olsen said this represented a significant turning point for the iwi and hapu of Wairoa.

"We remember those who have passed along the way as we have negotiated this settlement. Their guidance and their struggles are what kept both the negotiators and our governance group going even when times got tough," Mr Olsen said.

"Our people have waited for over thirty years to get to this point."

The settlement provided an acknowledgement, apology and redress for the Crown's historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, as well as commercial and financial redress totalling $100 million.

This included the transfer of interests in the Wharerata Forest and Patunamu Crown Forest Licensed land as well as the right to buy a number of land-banked properties for up to two years. Five sites of cultural significance would be vested in the area's iwi and hapu who would gift them back to the Crown for the people of New Zealand.

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson said the crown could never "fully compensate for the wrongs of the past, but this settlement provides the people of Te Wairoa with the foundation for a stronger cultural and economic future".

"The historical grievances of Te Wairoa iwi and hapu relate to the loss of the vast majority of their rohe, intense military campaigns and socio-economic deprivation, the effects of which can still be seen today," he said.

The settlement also established Te Rohe o Te Wairoa Reserves Board-Matangirau to manage five reserves in the Wairoa area. Membership of this board will comprise an equal number of representatives from the post-settlement governance entity, Tatau Tatau o Te Wairoa Trust, and the Wairoa District Council.

The occasion marked the beginning of a new era for the iwi and hapu of Wairoa, Mr Olsen said.

"Today, we can begin to look forward and start the next stage of our journey, where we will work to build a better future, economically, socially and culturally, for our whanau, our tamariki, and all those who come after them."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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