Regional | Whakatōhea

Majority vote in favour of Whakatōhea settlement - trust

Photo / Ulrich Lange

The Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust says its latest vote has demonstrated enough support to enter into a settlement with the Crown.

If the deed is signed it marks the end of 30 years of negotiations.

The Crown offer includes $100 million, 5000 hectares of moana, and the return of 6000 hectares of whenua, in addition to a Crown apology and cultural and commercial redress.

Throughout ratification some hapū and Whakatōhea members have opposed the Crown offer.

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust chair Graeme Riesterer says the impact of the vote is far-reaching, saying it will resonate for future generations.

"It means we can start to bring the aspirations of our whānau to life and build a better future for our mokopuna, their children and their children's children," he said.

"From a financial perspective, we will be in a position to invest in our people and the local economy, for example in our world-leading aquaculture ventures resulting in greater employment opportunities, improved earning potential, living conditions for everyone. This is critical to our whānau in the current economic environment.

"We will also be able to invest in our whakatōheatanga, our cultural capability, reo, tikanga and even waiata and kapa haka. Something our whānau keep telling us they want to see more of," Riesterer added.

If ratified, it will also be the first time an iwi can settle while the Waitangi Tribunal hears historical Treaty claims.

Settlement legislation usually precludes the Waitangi Tribunal from hearing claims related to that settlement.

"We have whānau who wanted to progress with the settlement, and those who told us they want their stories told and recorded through the Waitangi Tribunal process," Riesterer said.

"The dual process will support our whānau to share their stories and have these taonga recorded for perpetuity."

Riesterer said hearing the Crown apologies would be significant for whānau.

"I would also like to acknowledge those of our Whakatōhea whānau who are no longer with us to see this dream come true. It is now time for us to come together and move forward as one."

A date for an Ōpōtiki signing ceremony is yet to be confirmed.

-with RNZ