Tribunal to hear claims of atrocities

By Mike Barrington

The Waitangi Tribunal and Crown lawyers will be shown pa sites razed when British troops retaliated for Maori sacking Kororareka in 1845.

Up to 200 people will tour the the Bay of Islands on the Fullers boat, Dolphin Seeker, when the second week of stage two of the tribunal's Te Paparahi o Te Raki inquiry into northern Maori Treaty grievance claims starts on Monday.

The boat trip will focus on the claims of Nga Hapu o te Tautai Moana (Bay of Islands) and in particular the claims of Ngati Manu hapu at Karetu, Te Kapotai at Waikare and Ngati Kuta/Patu Keha on the Te Rawhiti peninsula.

These claims include issues such as war atrocities, crooked land dealings and Crown purchases.

Following Hone Heke's bloodless attacks on the flagpole at Kororareka, the Northern War began in earnest with the invasion of the town on March 11, 1845.

The following month Pomare was clapped in irons after being lured from his pa at Otuihu, opposite the Opua wharf , and the pa was burned to the ground on April 30.

On May 13, the British and their Maori burned the Te Kapotai settlement at Waikare, killed all the livestock, spoiled the food stores and chased the local inhabitants into the bush.

One of the commanding British officers at the time, Colonel Hulme, said: "It is my sad duty to state my conviction that until the principal pah on the Kawakawa are destroyed and until the majority of their rebellious inhabitants are killed, there will be no peace in the Bay of Islands, no security for other settlements.

"The pah to which I refer are besides Pomare's, those of Kawiti, of Hoori Kingi, of Ruku, of Waikadi (Waikare) and of Marupo."

Nga Hapu o te Takutai Moana chairman Pita Tipene said in other countries these acts were seen as war atrocities or crimes against humanity.

"The inquiry being held by the tribunal will allow these stories to be told and healing to begin," he said.

The site visit will also take in the Opua Marina, over which local hapu led by Sir James Henare protested in the 1980s.

Sir James lodged a tribunal claim in 1988 saying the reclamation consent for the marina breached the Treaty.

The launch tour will include lunch at Te Rawhiti Marae, afternoon tea at Turuki Marae at Waikare, and dinner at Ngati Manu Marae at Karetu.

The hearing into Tautai Moana claims will be held in the Waitaha conference room at the Copthorne Hotel at Waitangi from 8.45am daily from May 14-17.

- Northern Advocate

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