Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Hundreds witness historic signing

Tuhoe descend on Parliament for an apology and a $170m settlement - an event they have awaited for years.

Tamati Kruger. Photo / Greg Bowker
Tamati Kruger. Photo / Greg Bowker

After 160 years of fighting with the Crown, Tuhoe have signed their Treaty settlement - and Ngai Tuhoe came in their hundreds to witness an occasion many thought would never happen.

They filled the Banquet Hall where the signing was taking place, they filled the Grand Hall and the Legislative Chamber. Others waited in Parliament's lobby and others were at Pipitea Marae down the road. There were young children, mothers, teenagers, and kuia and kaumatua in stunning feather cloaks. Most came in buses, Tame Iti landed in a black Bentley convertible.

Prime Minister John Key was the first to sign the $170 million settlement for the Crown, saying it would give Tuhoe more economic independence.

As well as a long-awaited apology from the Crown, it is unique from other settlements in its promise to give Tuhoe a form of mana motuhake by giving it more control over social services delivery. Management of Te Urewera was also critical - the settlement will make the park a new legal entity owned by neither the Crown nor Tuhoe, but giving Tuhoe an increasing management role over time.

Mr Key had ruled out Tuhoe ownership of Te Urewera National Park, but said the final solution would recognise Tuhoe's place in the land. He recited some of Tuhoe's history - the land confiscations, the scorched earth policies, executions and broken promises.

"Knowledge of this history did increase the motivation of my Government to make sure that this time an agreement between Tuhoe and the Crown has both substance and is long lasting. The deed signed today is the first serious attempt to change the relationship from a largely negative one to a distinctly positive one."

Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger said it would help end the grief and anger.

"I think we all sensed within Te Urewera that this was going to be the right time. We had the right people around, there was a feeling of readiness to deal with a disappointing history and stop the habit of that history failing New Zealand as well as Tuhoe."

Tuhoe have had a more strained relationship with the Crown than most other iwi, and Treaty Minister Chris Finlayson and Mr Kruger were careful to say that any peace from signing the settlement was a cautious one. Mr Kruger said both sides would have responsibilities in the long term under the settlements.

"The funny thing about trust and confidence is it's something you have to work on as a process rather than an event. There are times we slip up and things don't go as right as we wish. I think the relationship between Tuhoe and the Crown requires that - it requires a steady hand from both parties, a lot of honour involved and trust and confidence."

Mr Kruger said the iwi had work under way in anticipation of the settlement, including health and education measures. He hoped to use some of the funding to improve services for those within Tuhoe, such as getting water supply, sewage services, and electricity to remote areas.

He said although they were responsibilities for local government or government, "we've been waiting 150 years for local government to do that, and we would like to chip in and start that process".

Mr Finlayson said the settlement did not mean that the Crown could abdicate those usual responsibilities.

"When I go out on the road, I see one of those regrettable realities that the further you get away from Wellington, you do have issues where some of the housing, for example, is shocking and it really does need to be addressed."

He expected legislation bringing the settlement into effect to be introduced soon.

The Settlement

Crown Apology: for raupatu (land confiscations), wrongful killings, scorched earth warfare, denying self-governance over Te Ureweras, and excluding Tuhoe while establishing a National Park in their homelands, wrongly treating Lake Waikaremoana as Crown, rather than Tuhoe-owned.

Te Urewera will not be owned by either the Crown or Tuhoe. Will be governed by a board of Crown and Tuhoe nominees and managed by the Department of Conservation and Tuhoe. Legislation will ensure protection of environmental and historic aspects, and ensure public access is maintained.

Mana Motuhake: Tuhoe will have more say in social services for Tuhoe people in dealing with Ministry of Social Development, Education, Business, Innovation and Employment, and DHBs.

Land: Seven culturally important sites will be transferred with no rights of public access required.

Financial Redress: $170 million, including value from 2008 Central North Island forestry settlement, right to buy five Crown properties subject to lease-back to Crown.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 02 Sep 2014 02:22:36 Processing Time: 602ms