Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Tears, $170m end long, dark journey

An emotional moment for Huka Williams as the Tuhoe delegation arrives at the Grand Hall in Parliament for the deed of settlement signing yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
An emotional moment for Huka Williams as the Tuhoe delegation arrives at the Grand Hall in Parliament for the deed of settlement signing yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell

One of New Zealand history's darkest, most profound grievances is close to resolution after Tuhoe and the Crown completed negotiations on an unlikely settlement worth $170 million.

Amid gasping, uncontrollable tears from Tuhoe members, the two parties initialled a deed of settlement at Parliament yesterday which recognised that the Ureweras-based iwi had faced 143 years of injustice at the hands of the Crown.

Chief negotiator Tamati Kruger said his people had no appetite left for prolonging the grievance.

"The mood that I sense is that 143 years is far too long to be injured and hurt and angry and indifferent. This generation of Tuhoe, without wanting to concede too much, are wanting these Treaty issues to be resolved."

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said the scope of the settlement reflected the very serious nature of the breaches by the Crown of its obligations.

Under the unique settlement, Te Urewera will be legally owned by nobody but jointly controlled by Tuhoe and the Crown. Iwi members would have to ratify it before it was implemented, which was expected to be before the end of the year.

Mr Kruger said the iwi did not want to exclude the New Zealand public from the region. Despite Tuhoe's history of autonomous rule, the iwi's settlement and push for self-sufficiency was "not a no-vote to mainstream New Zealand culture or Kiwiana".

The deed also gave Tuhoe the opportunity to take over the delivery of its own social services - a form of self-rule.

Mr Kruger hinted that this approach could be extended, with the iwi keen to run its own healthcare and possibly even seek its own income tax system.

"We think that the glory of democracy is where people do much for themselves and free themselves from being a beneficiary, a whinger, and a dependant."

The redress also included an accepted historical record, which was punctuated by atrocities - executions of iwi members and torched settlements, confiscation of prime agricultural land, and unjust land purchases.

- NZ Herald

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