Long history of strife behind Tuhoe claims

By Yvonne Tahana

Tuhoe and the Government will try to overcome a long history of conflict today as they start negotiations for settlement of all the iwi's outstanding Treaty claims.

In the 1860s, much of the tribe's land was confiscated and given to settlers.

This was after British soldiers had burned crops, leaving people to starve.

Last year's police "terror raids" in Ruatoki and the arrest of Tame Iti angered many in the iwi.

But one iwi member believes that history makes this attempt at engagement between the two important.

Matt Te Pou helped negotiate the $500 million Central North Island forestry settlement last month which Tuhoe signed.

The former Maori All Black coach also chaired his tribe's claim before the Waitangi Tribunal hearings between 2003 and 2005.

Today, he will be in a delegation of Tuhoe arriving at Parliament to witness terms of negotiation being signed.

"Tuhoe's history has been one of resistance, so therefore it could be a defining moment.

It could see us take a huge step forward, because at the end of the day, both the Crown and Tuhoe have to talk about the relationship," Mr Te Pou said.

While the forestry deal - in which the tribe received 26 per cent of all dividends - guaranteed it the resources for economic development, working through outstanding issues would allow both sides to finally address their history.

At the heart of the claim, would be the 214,500ha Te Urewera National Park which includes Lake Waikaremoana and the smaller Lake Waikareiti, Mr Te Pou said.

"Clearly Tuhoe are Te Urewera and Te Urewera is Tuhoe. We've been very clear with the Crown that's our focus."

At the same time, but separate from the treaty process, Tuhoe will also be planning its legal action for the way police carried out the "terror" raids.

Some people, such as Tamati Kruger, are likely to take part in both processes.

He could not be contacted for comment and lawyer Peter Williams QC did not return calls.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen wouldn't comment yesterday.

- NZ Herald

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