Indigenous | Taranaki Maunga

Taranaki Maunga deal gets popular tick

Members of Taranaki’s eight iwi have voted to approve the redress deal for the confiscation of Taranaki Maunga negotiated with the Crown.

A final signing of Te Rukuruku Pūtakerongo - the Taranaki Maunga Collective Redress Deed - will take place next Friday at Ōwae Marae in Waitara.

After six years of talks the deal was initialled by the Crown and iwi heads in March but still needed approval from the uri (descendants) of each iwi.

A majority of voters from each iwi supported the redress after a six-week ratification period that saw 14 face-to-face information hui in Taranaki and eight cities across the country, and another five online hui.

Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo includes a Crown apology, shared governance for the national park, and a planning process rooted in Māori values.

It contains an agreed historical account of the taking of the mountain in 1865, along with the rest of the region, as indiscriminate punishment for “rebellion” in the Taranaki Wars.

‘Crown caused immeasurable harm’

That account says: “The Crown’s confiscation of Taranaki Maunga fundamentally disrupted the profound connection that existed between Taranaki Māori, their whenua, and their tupuna.

“It deprived Taranaki Māori of access to important sources of food and sites of profound ancestral significance.

“By professing to take ownership of Taranaki Maunga, the Crown caused immeasurable harm to the mana and wairua of the whānau, hapū, and iwi of Taranaki.”

Negotiator Liana Poutu earlier said organisers had pushed for a rapid ratification to get the redress deal on the legislative timetable.

“If we don’t get it introduced, then we’re in the hands of the incoming government in terms of where that sits on the timetable.”

The eight iwi settled their respective Treaty of Waitangi historical claims individually but agreed to collectively negotiate cultural redress regarding Taranaki Maunga.

Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo recognises the peaks of the national park as ancestral mountains and they jointly become a legal person, Te Kāhui Tupua.

Crown ownership ends

Te Kāhui Tupua will own itself, ending Crown ownership, and the National Park Act will be amended if it conflicts with the agreement to give Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo priority.

Te Tōpuni Kōkōrangi - a group appointed half by iwi and half by the Crown - will develop park management plans.

Those plans will then need approval from both the Minister of Conservation and Te Tōpuni Ngārahu, a group of representatives from all iwi of Taranaki.

The 36,000-hectare Te Papakura o Taranaki will remain a national park and the Department of Conservation retains day-to-day management.

In 1978 the mountain was vested in the Taranaki Māori Trust Board but then immediately gifted back to the nation. The Waitangi Tribunal found little evidence that hapū had agreed to the switch.

Taranaki Maunga, the neighbouring peaks, and other geographical features will carry the first solely te reo names ever approved for landforms.

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Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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