Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Iwi land dispute may head to tribunal

Te Arawa iwi Ngati Kea Ngati Tuara is angry over a neighbouring iwi's Treaty claim over part of Horohoro.

Te Runanga o Ngati Kea Ngati Tuara chairman Eru George disputes the claim by Ngati Raukawa over Horohoro, maintaining the area, just southwest of Rotorua, is part of his iwi's tribal lands.

He said the parties were meeting this week in an attempt to progress discussions on overlapping interests in Horohoro. If there is no agreement the matter may end up with the Waitangi Tribunal.

On its tribal website, Ngati Kea Ngati Tuara outlines its historic connection to Horohoro and other tribal lands. The website states the two tribes are closely related through intermarriage but that Ngati Kea Ngati Tuara rights were recognised by Native Land Court cases in the late 1800s.

A Ngati Raukawa spokesman said debating the issue in public was not the iwi's preferred option.

"We have worked very hard to try and find a way forward kanohi ki te kanohi [face to face]," he told The Daily Post.

The South Waikato iwi is on the verge of agreement on its Treaty settlement but must first address concerns raised by neighbouring iwi before the deed can be signed.

It has been negotiating with neighbouring iwi from Te Arawa, Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Tuwharetoa.

The Ngati Raukawa spokesman said his iwi "categorically" denied it was trying to take land from Ngati Kea, Tuara.

"This issue is about a non-exclusive statutory acknowledgment. This means we can accommodate the views of both parties," he said.

"Raukawa assert both an historic and contemporary interest in the Horohoro area stemming from their ancestors Whaita, Wairangi and Pipito."

The spokesman said Raukawa had continued to maintain a presence at Horohoro.

"Kaumatua today regularly recall their experiences in the Horohoro area - many remember catching pigs in the area.

"Over the past 30 years, Raukawa kaumatua have worked with various forestry companies and archaeologists identifying sites of significance to Raukawa."

The Ngati Raukawa response to the claims they did not challenge the Native Land Court findings has been that during that period they were considered rebels by the Crown and were not able to defend their position in the courts.

"As a consequence the land was awarded to others."

Other Te Arawa iwi, including Ngati Tahu Ngati Whaoa and Ngati Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao, are also in negotiations with Ngati Raukawa.

Ngati Tahu Ngati Whaoa spokesman Roger Pikia said there were unresolved issues.

Last week, Ngati Raukawa met with Ngati Whakaue and came to agreement on overlapping interests, a number of Crown reserves.

Ngati Whakaue Komiti Nui chairman, Anaru Te Amo, said the matter was dealt with amicably.

Ngati Raukawa also identified areas of interest within the Ngati Whakaue area, with which it had an historical association, Mr Te Amo said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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