Regional | Ōpōtiki

Te Whakatōhea begins voting for Treaty settlement

History is being made in the eastern Bay of Plenty for Whakatōhea whānau as voting begins on settling the iwi's 30-year-long Treaty claim with the Crown.

Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust negotiator Maui Hudson said Whakatōhea had been hoping to settle at the same time as Tainui and Ngāi Tahu before 2000 but government changes meant the deal put forward to Te Whakatōhea in 1996, worth $40 million, wasn’t good enough.

“It’s taken us another 25 years to get around to the point of being able to engage in the process again.”

The decline meant Te Whakatōhea had to go to the back of the line. Now, that claim is valued at over $100 million.

The six-week voting process kicked off on October 15, with hopes for a clear result by Christmas.

“Because we’ve been the only iwi officially rejecting a deed of settlement we were put up as the model not to follow. But what it has done is that we’ve entered into the next phase of negotiations.

A settlement 30 years in the making for Te Whakatōhea. 

Bringing the people back

"Because the kaupapa is so important, our people need to go and have their stories told, their history shared at the Waitangi Tribunal forum.

“Because our people decided to continue with the re-negotiations, we had a vote that showed almost a 50/50 split. The only way for us to deliver what our people wanted was to continue with the settlement but also go to the Waitangi Tribunal.”

The settlement will be used to help the rural town of Ōpōtiki bring its people back with jobs and developments for now and into the future. Some 500 hectares of marine space and 6000 hectares of land are also included, which will be added to the planning of the region’s growth for years to come, Hudson says.

“We can not only start to create opportunities for Te Whakatōhea but become a regional agriculture powerhouse as well.”