Far North iwi Te Aupouri will celebrate a major milestone tomorrow when it signs a two-part deal which gives it a hand in governing 90 Mile Beach.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson says he hopes it brings much-needed economic development to one of the most impoverished areas in the country, while a tribal negotiator said the iwi will work hard to move Te Aupouri to a brighter future.
Significantly, it is the first of four iwi in the region that will sign an individual settlement but also collectively settle issues of overlapping interests. As a group, the tribes - Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri - are known as the Te Hiku Forum.
The beach is one of the collective issues.
The deed of settlement to be signed at Te Kao's Potahi Marae recognises Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri will have 50 per cent membership on a new beach co-governance board.
The Northland Regional and Far North District Councils will fill the board's remaining share of seats.
Te Aupouri's individual deal includes $21.04 million which will be used to purchase two Crown-owned farms, part of Te Kao School and a government landbanked property.
It also sets out how a wide range of government agencies will interact with the tribe, obligate the Crown to facilitate a relationship between the iwi and Norfolk Island Museum which holds two patu in its collection, sets out the tribe's association with kuaka/godwits and provides statutory acknowledgments over islands and other reserves.
Mr Finlayson said over three years he had come to like and respect Te Aupouri people but the area faced huge problems.
A helicopter ride where homes without running water and power were pointed out to him was something he would not forget.
"It's a beautiful part of the country. On the coastline, for example, are some wonderful beaches and beach properties, and you go inland a couple of miles to visit the marae and you see the most appalling poverty.
"Hopefully this settlement ... is a part of what's going to be very much a focus on the Far North."
Tribal negotiator Peter-Lucas Jones said the deed signing would be part of a three-day celebration starting today.
"This is just a beginning and a new phase.
"We acknowledge the hard work that all of the iwi have played in the evolution of our claims in Te Hiku o Te Ika."
Another regional tribe, Ngati Kahu, pulled out of the Te Hiku Forum unhappy with terms.
The tribe has applied to the Waitangi Tribunal for binding recommendations to force tribal ownership of government-owned land.
WHAT'S IN IT?
Te Aupouri receives:
*$21 million to purchase two Crown-owned farms, part of Te Kao School and another Crown property.
*19 geographic name changes including Te Oneroa a Tohe being added to Ninety Mile Beach.
*Cultural redress: vesting of 11 properties such as the 1191ha Te Arai conservation Area, joint vesting of 214ha of 90 Mile Beach and a $380,000 fund for cultural projects.
*Its membership of the Te Hiku Forum with three other iwi entitles it to:
*Membership of a new co-governance board for Ninety Mile Beach.
*Membership of a new Te Hiku Conservation Board, which will have equal public membership. Will work with Department of Conservation.
*Joint share of 21,283ha of Crown forest land on the Aupouri Peninsula.
*A social development and wellbeing accord between iwi and government agencies. Aims to address socio-economic issues in region.
*Rights of first refusal over Crown land for 172 years.
*9333 tribal members represented in negotiations by trustees of Te Runanga Nui o Te Aupouri Trust.By Yvonne Tahana Email Yvonne