Four Hawke's Bay reserves will be gifted back to the nation this week by the people they were illegally taken from 150 years ago.

Hapu represented by the Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust are gifting back the Department of Conservation reserves one week after receiving them from a 2013 Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Three years ago Minister of Treaty Settlements Chris Finlayson apologised in person at Tangoio Marae, one of few landholdings left after illegal land acquisitions/confiscations preceded by a marae invasion, the killing of more than 20 people at Omarunui and Petane and the incarceration of at least 13 others.

He said the Government could never fully compensate for the injustices and the poverty which followed the hapu becoming a landless people.


The Deed of Settlement gives background to a long litany of land loss, giving diary entries by the Crown's chief land purchase agent Donald McLean as proof of unfair dealings.

The Deed said the Crown was "deeply remorseful for its unjust attacks on Omarunui and Petane in 1866, the deaths that were caused and the subsequent imprisonment of some of your people".

The Crown sincerely apologised for "immense prejudice" inflicted on the hapu by the proclamation of a confiscation district, which caused the main loss of land, and the exclusion of the hapu from the ownership of Kaiwaka.

"The Crown profoundly regrets compounding this prejudice by purchasing most of the remaining land of the hapu before 1930 in ways that were unfair and oppressive. The Crown is very sorry it left the hapu virtually landless, and for the harm this caused to your tribal structures and ability to exercise customary rights and responsibilities."

The reserves to be gifted back by hapu include Boundary Stream Scenic Reserve, Bellbird Bush Scenic Reserve, the balance of Opouahi Scenic Reserve in the Maungaharuru Range and the coastal Whakaari Landing Place Reserve.

Ngati Kurumokihi are the guardian of the reserves with which it has cultural, spiritual, traditional, and historic associations.

Boundary Stream Mainland Island, Bellbird Bush, and the Opouahi Scenic Reserve are part of Poutiri Ao o Tane project to protect and restore the landscape through intensive pest control and habitat restoration. Kiwi, kaka, kereru and kokako are some of the species that have regained a foothold.

Whakaari Landing Place Reserve is recognised as an outstanding natural feature and contains Whakaari, an iconic pa.


Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust general manager Shayne Walker said gifting back the reserves "signifies the preparedness and generosity of the hapu to the Hawke's Bay community and our ecosystem".

"This week's hapu celebrations are an opportunity to enhance our kaitiakitanga through sharing history and stories, enjoying each others company in our environment and further evolving our hapu aspirations."

The reserves will be gifted back at a ceremony at Tangoio Marae on Wednesday.