Historical grievances nearly 170 years old are being settled in Parliament today as three major Treaty bills are passed into law.
Ngaruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi are all hearing the final readings of their settlement bills this morning. The agreements are worth around $225 million in total.
Among the atrocities being recognised by the Crown is an infamous attack on a pacifist settlement at Parihaka in 1881, where Maori leaders Te Whiti and Kohu had led a non-violent resistance against land confiscations.
Introducing the bills in the House, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said they addressed "some of the gravest moments in our country's history".
He said the legislation would "hopefully pave the way for a positive future for the iwi of Taranaki".
"You and your tupuna have fought for over 170 years to reach this point."
Te Korowai o Ngaruahine Trust chairman Will Edwards said his iwi's colonial history was one of trauma and deprivation at the hands of the Crown.
"Today goes some way towards recognising and redressing that hurt and the wrongs done to our tupuna."
Te Atiawa chairwoman Liana Poutu said the end of the long settlement process was a time to celebrate what had been achieved, in particular the collaboration between the three iwi to reach this point.
Poutu also had strong words for the Crown, referring to recent conflict between iwi and the Government over the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.
"We urge the Crown to honour the settlements that have progressed through the House today in the spirit in which they were completed."
The Government has been accused of legislating over a full and final settlement by establishing the marine sanctuary.
Taranaki Iwi Trust chairman Tokatumoana Walden spoke of the challenges of a small iwi negotiating a Treaty settlement, describing it as a "David and Goliath-type setting".
Working alongside two larger iwi had given his iwi "a better chance at doing the best for our people", he said.
Walden also said his iwi had slowed down its settlement process to make sure there was adequate compensation for atrocities committed at Parihaka. The Crown had made progress with compensation in relation to Parihaka, he said. But he was disappointed at delays to a commitment to a national day to commemorate the New Zealand land wars.
On top of the Treaty settlements, the Crown is considering a separate reconciliation package for the Parihaka community.