'Dark times' remembered as Treaty claims settled

By Kate Shuttleworth

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia. File photo / Mark Mitchell
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia. File photo / Mark Mitchell

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia wept in Parliament today as she remembered some of "the darkest times" in New Zealand history as four Treaty of Waitangi claims were settled.

Ms Turia wiped away her tears as she spoke to the final reading of the bill to sign-off a settlement to Gisborne-based iwi Ngai Tamanuhiri.

She was given a box of tissues, and Green MP Metiria Turei sat with her in support as Ms Turia talked about the atrocities suffered by the iwi.

"When war broke out the people remained neutral - including when fighting came close to home in 1865."

She said the Crown's attack on the peaceful community was inexplicable.

"The Crown's relation with Ngai Tamanuhiri has involved some of the darkest episodes in the country's history and that sense of grief and loss suffered by this iwi remains with us all," she said.

"It is a tragic tale of mass executions and land loss."

Ngai Tamanuhiri were acknowledged as having endured the worst military action in New Zealand. Their settlement included $11.07 million, a range of commercial redress properties, an apology and an agreed historical account and Crown acknowledgment.

Treaty Settlement Minister Chris Finlayson said the Crown apologised for the atrocities and the settlement had been a long time coming.

"It is well established the breaches of the Treaty were found to be very serious."

He said the deed of settlement was released in 2008 but had taken until now to be finalised.

"We were at the beautiful Muriwai marae south of Gisborne to sign the deed of settlement - I read out the full acknowledgement and the apology and one was aware it was a very eerie sort of feeling in the grounds of the marae. I asked Ms Turia what was going on and she replied people were weeping," said Mr Finlayson.

Another Gisborne based iwi Rongowhakaata received a settlement of $22m, an apology, an acknowledgement they suffered some of the worst Crown military action in New Zealand history, and the return of culturally significant sites such as one of the oldest surviving meeting houses Te Hau Ki Turanga.

Members of the iwi, including young people sat in the public gallery to witness the third reading of the settlement bill.

They sang a waiata when their settlement was signed off today.

Ngati Makino, a Bay of Plenty iwi received a $6.75m settlement today in Parliament.

The Ngati Makino's area of interest lies between Maketu and Otamarakau in Bay of Plenty and extends to lakes Rotoiti and Rotoma. The settlement includes 3400 hectares of Rotoehu Crown Forest being transferred back to the iwi.

A partial settlement was also signed off to individuals from Ngati Rereahu, Maniapoto, Raukawa, Ngati Tuwharetoa and other iwi to the value of $1.8m.

The settlement is not final because the families' old pa site is on the Craft farms, which went into receivership near Te Kuiti.

- APNZ

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