A Bay of Plenty iwi is set to receive $11.3 million as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement - if it is approved by its members.
Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust has finalised negotiations with the Crown to settle historical claims for breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi by the Crown on behalf of Ngāti Rangitihi uri (descendants).
Trustees of Te Mana and the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little initialled the Deed of Settlement in Parliament yesterday in the presence of Ngāti Rangitihi representatives.
The Deed of Settlement included an historic account, Crown acknowledgements of how and when it breached Te Tiriti, and the Crown's apology.
It sets out the return of culturally significant lands, relationship agreements with Government agencies, and an entity to restore and protect Tarawera Awa, with $500,000 of funding as well as financial redress of $11.3 million.
Te Mana will receive $4m plus interest in addition to the interest in forest lands valued at $7.3m that were part of the 2008 Central North Island Forest Lands Collective Settlement (CNI).
Ngāti Rangitihi in Matatā is part of the greater Te Arawa confederation of tribes. It has customary rights and interests stretching from the coast at Matatā, Tarawera awa to include Lake Tarawera, Ruawahia and Rerewhakaitu including the Rotomahana, Rerewhakaitu and Okaaro lakes, and Kaingaroa Forest.
The initialling of the Deed of Settlement was the end of negotiations and signalled the start of the ratification process – an iwi-wide voting process where adult registered members of Ngāti Rangitihi would have the opportunity to have their say on whether or not to approve the settlement package.
Te Mana chairman Leith Comer said the journey for Ngāti Rangitihi's settlement spanned more than a decade.
"While we have been in direct negotiations with the Crown since 2015, we acknowledge all those Ngāti Rangitihi claimants who submitted Waitangi Tribunal claims for Te Tiriti o Waitangi breaches by the Crown — those who have passed on, and those who are still with us.
"While we are living with the consequences of the losses and mamae today, it is our tīpuna [ancestors] who were there when land was lost and who suffered directly. Our mokopuna [grandchildren] will benefit from the settlement if it is approved, but we must not forget those that started the journey for us," Comer said.
"I thank our team of negotiators and trustees who have pushed hard to negotiate the settlement for our people. I thank all our Ngāti Rangitihi members for their support over the years, which has enabled us to get to this point."
Comer said, if approved, the settlement would help achieve a number of aspirations for the iwi.
"It will enable the return of lands that are culturally and spiritually significant to us, and it acknowledges our important role as kaitiaki of our whenua and awa."
Comer urged all Ngāti Rangitihi descendants to register with Te Mana.
"This is a critical point of our settlement journey and we want all our whānau to have the opportunity to have their say by voting on this significant kaupapa."
Voting on the Deed of Settlement will take place from July 24 to August 23 2020.
There will be a series of information hui held in Matatā, Hamilton, Rotorua, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch where members will have the opportunity to ask questions about the settlement package negotiated.