A Hawke's Bay iwi divorced from its land since a dodgy Crown purchase and the Omarunui and Petane massacres of 1866 hopes a Treaty settlement signed on Thursday will bring some closure to grief and suffering dating back more than a century and a half.
Originally based in the Te Haroto and Tarawera - now midway on the Napier-Taupo highway - Ngati Hineuru signed a Deed of Settlement with the Crown in an emotional ceremony at the Beehive in Wellington on Thursday.
All that remains is an act of Parliament for the completion of the deal which, in land, assets, cash and cultural redress, is valued at more than $25 million.
It's considered small by some settlement standards but one of the biggest per recipient in an iwi claiming only about 1500 members, and significant for an iwi which lost almost everything, including its mana.
Minister of Treaty Settlements and Crown signatory Chris Finlayson said: "I'm acutely aware that for a long time Ngati Hineuru, in the eyes of many people, just didn't exist, or they were regarded as a hapu of Tuwharetoa."
But he also recognised the settlement was just the start of a rebuilding. "The obligations on the Crown are ongoing and they are real, and it's very important that this ceremony today not be regarded as the end," he said.
"It is the beginning. There's a lot of work to be done in the future."
"We can never fully compensate for these past wrongs," he said. "However, this settlement will enable the people of Hineuru to look forward to a stronger future."
The settlement includes an agreed historical account, conceding Crown fault in acquiring Hineuru land. It was among the 260,000ha of Crown agent Donald McLean's Ahuriri Purchase of 1851, the circumstances around the killing of more than 30 iwi members. They includeed rangatira Te Rangihiroa, in the Government and volunteer forces storming of Omarunui and embattlement at Petane, the Chatham Islands incarceration without trial of survivors, and stripping of land assets and identity.
The Crown now accepts multiple breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi in that it did not include Hineuru in the purchase negotiations, did not reserve any land for Hineuru, and failed to safeguard the interests of the iwi.
Described by iwi representatives as "a means to reviving the mana of Hineuru", the settlement stems from claims lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal in 1992, part of the Mohaka ki Ahuriri casebook of 20 claims from iwi and hapu in the region, which were covered in a unique sequence of hearings between 1996 and 2000.
The tribunal returned to Te Haroto Marae in 2004 to deliver the voluminous reports, validated most of the claims and grievances, and opening the way for settlement negotiation, and formation of the legal entities to deal with the proceeds.
The Crown and Ngati Hineuru struck an agreement in principle in 2012, and ratification hui for iwi members were held in December in Wellington, Auckland, Whakatane and Napier.