An imminent $100million Treaty of Waitangi settlement will help four Northland iwi move forward and meet the aspirations of their people, leaders say.
The Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill is due for its third and final reading in Parliament on Wednesday and includes the settlements of four of five Muriwhenua iwi - Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto, Te Rarawa and Ngati Kuri.
Ngati Kahu is the only Te Hiku iwi to not yet settle.
Each settlement includes a summary of the agreed historical account, Crown acknowledgments of its breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, and an apology. The settlements are worth more than $100million in cash and several thousand hectares of land, including several farms, schools and the return of culturally important sites.
The bill also establishes a statutory board made up of iwi, council and conservation representatives to manage Te Oneroa a Tohe/Ninety Mile Beach.
Ngati Kuri has asked Parliamentary Services that a space be set aside in a section of the public gallery on Wednesday to acknowledge the tribe's tupuna who had passed on and allow their spirit to be part of the third reading of the bill.
Chairman of Te Manawa o Ngati Kuri Harry Burkhardt said it was the wish of Ngati Kuri kaumatua to symbolically communicate the mixed emotions brought up by the third reading.
"Keeping a section of the public gallery empty specifically is a symbolic gesture for the people of Ngati Kuri who had passed on before the settlement was achieved."
Mr Burkhardt said each stage of the settlement process had brought mixed emotions.
"For many in Ngati Kuri the years of negotiating a partial return of taonga lost, and receiving the Crown Apology at signing of the deed of settlement at Ngataki on Friday February 7, 2014, was the conclusion of the journey. For others it will take more time to put the hurt and humiliation of Treaty transgressions behind them. And for a large group it is a bitter-sweet conclusion where their thoughts are with those people who didn't live long enough to witness the completion of the settlement or hear the apology from the Crown for past transgression of the Treaty of Waitangi against the people of Ngati Kuri."
He said each Far North group would acknowledge the event in its own way and supported Ngati Kuri's request.
Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chairman, Haami Piripi, said it was great to see the iwi settlements finally realised.
"This historic moment will see the fruition of decades of hard work undertaken by negotiators, runanga staff and kaumatua many of whom have since passed on.
"Most importantly the settlement is the realisation of huge opportunities that will empower Te Rarawa people to move forward into the future."
Mr Piripi said the settlement was already leading to an increased investment in marae and quality working relationships with hapu.
"The challenge for us will be to meet our people's aspirations which I am certain we can achieve through settlement ... This is an exciting moment in time for Te Rarawa and indeed for Te Hiku o Te Ika."
Celebrations by one of the four Te Hiku iwi will be subdued, however.
It is understood Te Aupouri wanted to send a delegation to Wellington to mark the third reading but has scaled back its plans in the wake of the financial troubles faced by Te Aupouri Maori Trust Board.
The board's social services have been halted and it is under investigation by Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell.
Once the bill is passed the tribe's settlement money will be administered by Te Runanga Nui o Te Aupouri and the trust board will be dissolved. However, the runanga will inherit the trust board's substantial debt.
Following the final reading of the Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill the settlement is expected to be signed by the end of the year.