Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust has today signed an Agreement in Principle (AIP) with the Crown at Rangitihi Marae in Matatā.
Te Mana chairman Leith Comer said the signing was a welcome milestone for Ngāti Rangitihi and a significant step towards achieving a comprehensive Treaty settlement for the iwi, which is part of the Te Arawa confederation of iwi and hapū.
Comer said it had been eight years since their settlement journey began and they had worked hard on it as a collective.
"We are excited to have come together today to sign this Agreement in Principle, which we believe represents a positive way forward to settle our Treaty of Waitangi grievances with the Crown."
The agreement includes a commitment to include in the Deed of Settlement an agreed account of the historical relationship between the Crown and Ngāti Rangitihi.
It also acknowledges the Crown's Treaty of Waitangi breaches, a formal apology from the Crown, and proposed cultural redress in the form of land being returned to Ngāti Rangitihi and place names being changed.
"Pivotal to Te Mana's aspirations is establishing a legislative entity charged with restoring the mauri of Tarawera Awa and Te Awa o Te Atua," Comer said.
The agreement also includes $4 million of financial and commercial redress. This is in addition to the $7m of commercial redress the iwi received in the 2008 Central North Island Forests Settlement.
The next step will be for Te Mana to negotiate the details of the settlement with the Crown.
"We hope to reach a draft Deed of Settlement in the coming year, and we will be working with all our whānau to ensure they give their feedback before ratification."
Over the past year, Te Mana has held hui-a-iwi to keep whānau updated and ensure their views are considered in the settlement negotiations.
"Our focus is to unite as an iwi and create the best future we can for our hapū and whānau.
"We want to keep strengthening the connection we have with our people – not only at home in Matatā, but throughout the country and overseas," Comer said.
Trustees are calling on all Ngāti Rangitihi descendants to ensure they are registered with Te Mana now, so they can play a part in the settlement journey.
"If you whakapapa to Ngāti Rangitihi, this settlement is for you, your tamariki and mokopuna, and all the generations to come."