Editorial: Acceptance the ultimate recompense

By Andrew Austin

The Maungaharuru Tangitu Treaty settlement's signing at Tangoio Marae on Saturday will be followed by other agreements in Hawke's Bay in coming years, raising in some minds worries about the impacts on the region.

But it is important we all remember the intentions of the process, to address some wrongs of the past, provide a way forward, and ultimately provide forms of partnership which Waitangi Tribunal inquiries have found haven't always existed the way most of us would have wanted.

This will be met with some scepticism, but for those who've sat through hearings since the Tribunal was established in 1975 there wells a level of pride having witnessed the correcting of parts of history which were either ignored or misrepresented in the school journals of our formative years.

This leads to what in time will be seen as the great legacy of the Tribunal era, the actual telling of the story, be it the real story, or the full story. Whichever, Hawke's Bay is now privileged to have it in some volume thanks to the multi-claim hearings spread from Matahiwi and Omahu to Te Haroto and Mohaka in the mid-1990s, where passion and hurt salivated the words of almost every session.

In the case of Maungaharuru Tangitu, it was based on such valid grounds that the Crown had little option but to hold up the white flag. But where in many other cases throughout the country this would have sparked direct negotiation, these Bay hapu wanted the evidence heard.

The creating of permanent record, based on traditional history overlaid with legal history and what now-passed elders recalled from their younger days is, in effect, part of a compensation which, practically speaking, could never be achieved in full.

Nothing, of course, could meet the grieving and hurt arising from the 1866 military slayings at Omarunui and Petane, which background this claim.

The humble hapu of Maungaharuru Tangitu are entitled to see that the settlement works in practice, with respect, across the region. Universal acceptance, based on the full story, will be the ultimate compensation.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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