A symbolic koikoi (sharpened stick) given to the Hon Michael Cullen by Tame Iti to help negotiations between Tuhoe and the Crown has been returned to Tuhoe.
In Taneatua to deliver the Crown's formal apology to Tuhoe at a settlement ceremony today, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson, gave the koikoi back to Mr Iti saying it had done its job.
'I understand Tame said the koikoi should be returned when a settlement was achieved," Mr Finlayson said in his speech.
"I'd like to thank Tame. Our negotiations have concluded and we have reached a settlement that reconnects Tuhoe to Te Urewera."
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The bitter wind that blew through Te Uru Taumatua could not dampen the spirits of the 3500 people who had turned up to hear the Crown apology.
Mr Finlayson said it was an important part of the settlement process for the Crown to acknowledge and apologise for historic Treaty breaches.
"These historical breaches included indiscriminate raupatu or land confiscation, wrongful killings including executions, years of scorched earth warfare, the failure to implement the Urewera District Native Reserve Act 1896 and the exclusion of Tuhoe from the establishment of Te Urewera National Park," he said.
The koikoi was one of a number of taonga returned to Tuhoe during Mr Finlayson's speech.
A taiaha gifted to Premier Richard Seddon by Kereru in 1984 was given back by Mr Seddon's great-grandson Tim Jerram.
Mr Jerram said four generations of his family had acted as kaitiaki of the taiaha but it was always understood it would be returned to Tuhoe.
"Now is that time," Mr Seddon said.
Also returned and the cause of tears and jubilation from the crowd, was a flag that had been flying at Maungapohatu since the establishment of the Urewera District Native Reserve and was taken by the Crown in 1916 as evidence of Rua Kenana's sedition.
The flag has been in the Crown's possession for the past 100 years and cared for by the Auckland War Memorial Museum since 1930.
"Today we join together to help restore that injustice by returning the flag to you," Mr Finlayson said.
The original signed copies of Tuhoe's settlement legislation - the Tuhoe Settlement Act and Te Urewera Act - were also presented to Tuhoe.
Following the apology, Tuhoe chief negotiator Tamati Kruger told the Crown there was still a lot of mamae (hurt) among Tuhoe.
'Now is the time to focus on resolving the hurt for all of Tuhoe, even the ones not yet born," Mr Kruger said.
His words were reiterated by Mr Iti who said Tuhoe must accept the apology in order to move forward.
"All hapu will now be involved in getting things happening," Mr Iti said. "We are working within the Tuhoe communities already and that work will continue."
At the end of the speeches Mr Finlayson told media the partnership between the Crown and Tuhoe was one that needed to be "worked on and worked on and worked on".
"The Crown has to remember what has gone on in the past," he said.
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