Ngāti Rangitihi are moving closer to reaching a final settlement, signing an Agreement in Principle with the Crown at Rangitihi Marae in Matata.
Chairman of Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust Leith Comer says, "One of the most important objectives for Ngāti Rangitihi was to re-establish our presence here at Matata and at Tarawera".
“He kaupapa nunui ngā tipuranga e tū mai te mahere ki mua nei mō tō tātau iwi, anō te whakapai whakatika i te āhua o tō tātau nei awa o Tarawera”, te kī a Leith Comer.
“This is a significant moment for our descendants to come, to put a plan in place for our people, and to rejuvenate our river Tarawera”, says Tipene Marr.
Minister of Treaty Settlements Andrew Little says, "The Crown did not live up to expectations when it failed to adequately protect the awa from heavy pollution”.
Minister Little says this is a significant step towards achieving a comprehensive Treaty settlement for Ngāti Rangitihi.
“We're in a position where now the Crown can commit and good to see that Ngāti Rangitihi can commit and we can get on with now finalising all the details”, says Andrew Little.
The AIP includes $4 million of financial and commercial redress, as well as proposed cultural redress in the form of land being returned and place names being changed. Leith Comer says Ngāti Rangitihi descendants will benefit from the connection to Ruawāhia and Tarawera.
Leith Comer says, "They have offered to return land at Tapahoro, at Moura, at Omanuhiri, at Ngahereta, at Ruakokopu and also down to the falls, all of that land when you're on the lake will be Ngāti Rangitihi”.
However, not all matters have been resolved.
Minister Little says, “The Ngāti Rangitihi agreement has been one of the ones that's been more difficult to reach, there have been a lot of complicating factors we made some good progress, although there's one or two overlapping issues to resolve particularly with Tuhourangi”.
Leith Comer says, “We were asked to see if we can come to an agreement with Tūhourangi over the Waimangu Valley, at this stage we have not been able to, but we remain committed to talking to Tuhourangi to see if we can find a solution”.
Trustees are calling on all Ngāti Rangitihi descendants to register with Te Mana so they can play a part in the settlement journey ahead.