National | Andrew Little

Te Arawa iwi Ngāti Rangitihi settles historical treaty claims

Photo / File

Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust has signed a deed of settlement with the Crown at Rangitihi Marae in Matatā to settle the historical Te Tiriti o Waitangi claims of Ngāti Rangitihi iwi, the trust said in a statement Saturday.

The signing follows approval by 91.79% of iwi members who voted for the negotiated settlement package in August 2020.

Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust chairperson Leith Comer says today’s signing marks another significant milestone in the Ngāti Rangitihi settlement journey.

“No settlement will ever be able to compensate for the mamae our people suffered, but today represents the beginning of a new era where we can achieve our cultural, environmental, social and economic aspirations for Ngāti Rangitihi,” says Mr Comer.

“We are hopeful for what the future holds for our people and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with the Crown.”

Treaty Minister Andrew Little and Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust chairperson Leith Comer.  Photo / Supplied

Ngāti Rangitihi is a Te Arawa iwi based in and around Rotorua, Kaingaroa and Matatā which has approximately 5,300 registered members.

Ngāti Rangitihi’s historical grievances against the Crown include its failure to act in good faith when leasing and purchasing Ngāti Rangitihi land blocks, excessive land taking at Te Ariki for Public Works and a failure to ensure Ngāti Rangitihi had sufficient land to support themselves in the aftermath of the Tarawera eruption, Treaty Minister Andrew Little said in a government statement today.

“Crown actions and omissions against Ngāti Rangitihi have resulted in loss of most of their ancestral lands and the dispersal and displacement of their people,” Minister Little said.

The Deed of Settlement Signing Ceremony is only a few days away and we can definitely feel the excitement building!...

Posted by Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust on Tuesday, 1 December 2020

The settlement includes an acknowledgement, apology and redress for the Crown’s historical treaty breaches.

Ngāti Rangitihi will receive financial and commercial redress valued at more than $11 million, including $4 million financial redress and over $7 million through the Central North Island Forests Collective Settlement.

Cultural redress includes the vesting of 19 sites of cultural significance, including the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

Through the settlement, the Crown acknowledges and apologises for failing to protect the Tarawera River from pollution associated with the Tasman Pulp and Paper mill. The settlement provides for the establishment of the Tarawera Awa Restoration Strategy Group, made up of iwi and local government representatives, that will support, coordinate and promote the integrated restoration of the mauri/wellbeing of the Tarawera River catchment.

The settlement redress will be administered by Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust, the post-settlement governance entity, elected by iwi members.

“While no redress can ever fully compensate for the loss and distress that Ngāti Rangitihi has suffered, this settlement provides a base for a strong economic and cultural future for Ngāti Rangitihi and marks the beginning of the restoration of the relationship with the Crown,” Minister Little said.

Photo / Supplied

The Deed of Settlement also enables enduring relationships with neighbouring iwi, including Tūhourangi, Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa (Bay of Plenty), as Ngāti Rangitihi iwi move forward into the future, Comer said.

He says this settlement reflects the tireless work done by many within Ngāti Rangitihi to get to this point.

“It is an incredible honour today to be able to gather here to sign our Deed of Settlement — a settlement that is for our tamariki and mokopuna, but also for those who started this haerenga before us.

“As a Trust, we have been in direct negotiations with the Crown since 2015, but our journey started well before this. We pay tribute to all Ngāti Rangitihi claimants who submitted Waitangi Tribunal claims for historical Te Tiriti o Waitangi breaches by the Crown, some of who are no longer with us today.

“We also acknowledge the work of our negotiators who stood firm by their commitment to achieve the best settlement they could for our Iwi, and we thank all Ngāti Rangitihi whānau for their overwhelming support of this settlement.”