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Tuhoe settlement marks a 'new beginning' - Finlayson

Published: 5:40AM Tuesday June 04, 2013 Source: ONE News / Newstalk ZB

The Government has today addressed "some of the worst" breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi with a settlement which will see Tuhoe receive a redress package worth $170 million, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson says.

The tribe's Treaty settlement with the Crown was ratified in March but today marked the historic signing of the Deed of Settlement.

Te Kotahi a Tuhoe chief negotiator Tamati Kruger, representatives of Tuhoe, Prime Minister John Key, Finlayson and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples signed the agreement to settle historical claims of the iwi at a ceremony at Parliament today.

A formal apology was also be made to Tuhoe for what Finlayson called a "brutal military campaign".

"After many years, Ngai Tuhoe and the Crown have finally reached a new beginning," Finlayson said after the historic signing.

He said the "past breaches against Tuhoe are some of the worst in the story of our nation".

"Land was confiscated; villages and crops burned; families killed and men executed," said Finlayson.

"The relationship with their homeland whittled away despite promises. These sorry events have left a stain on the history of Te Urewera region, and on the history of the Crown in New Zealand.

"Today we address squarely that history, which has remained ever present in Te Urewera to this day."

He said the agreement reflected the "need to make things right".

Kruger said the signing in some respects marked the end of a long journey for Tuhoe, but said "it is really only the very start of a better future for our people".

"This settlement re-connects us with our homeland of Te Urewera. It gives us a financial base with which to help our people prosper where they are born, and it provides us with the means to make choices for ourselves." 

Finlayson said the settlement includes:
- Crown acknowledgements of breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles
- A Crown apology for those breaches
- An agreed historical account of the relationship between the Crown and Tuhoe
- Redress which will create a new legal identity for Te Urewera and see it co-governed by Crown and Tuhoe representatives; Mana Motuhake redress incorporating a social service management plan for the Tuhoe rohe, and a financial and commercial redress package totalling $170 million.

A better future

The Prime Minister says the signing of the settlement was a "momentous occasion" for the country, which was both "historically and nationally significant".

The Prime Minister said the settlement was to be the foundation of a new relationship between the Crown and Tuhoe, saying it "opened the door to a better future".

"The substance of the agreement is critical. The agreed historical account of the relationship between Tuhoe and the Crown reminds us of why the settlement process was developed and why settlement is very important to our future."

Key said Tuhoe was subjected to years of warfare.

"The deed we signed today is the first serious attempt to change the relationship from a largely negative one to a distinctly positive one.

"The historical account acknowledges for all the see the history of the Crown-Tuhoe relationship. The historical account provides the foundation stone for the settlement. Every other element of the settlement is built on that foundation.

"In particular, the Crown apology is based on Crown acceptances of breaches of Treaty of Waitangi and its principles as outlined in the historical account.

"The financial and commercial redress of  $170 million for those breaches will provide Tuhoe with the ability to make decisions as an entity that have simply not been possible."

Key said the settlement was just the beginning.

"This is a great day for Tuhoe. This is a great day for New Zealand."

The settlement will see iwi co-manage Te Urewera National Park with the Government, and in five years it will negotiate to have Mana Motuhake, or self-rule, which means more control over education, health and housing services in the area.

The hostilities between Tuhoe and the Crown span almost 150 years. It is hoped however that the signing of the deed of settlement will help heal old wounds.

The Crown admitted that over a hundred year period it:

- Confiscated the best land
- Carried out "unjust" land sales
- Undertook a brutal military campaign that has been described in a contemporary account as "extermination"

A celebration

More than 1000 members of Tuhoe were in Wellington today for the ceremony.

Busloads of iwi members arrived in the capital this afternoon, while Veteran Tuhoe activist Tame Iti arrived to Parliament in a Rolls Royce, to witness the historic signing.

Tuhoe spokesman Tamati Kruger said Parliament's banquet hall could not hold all of them so the event was filmed and streamed to the nearby Pipitea Marae.

MP for Waiariki Te Ururoa Flavell said the event today "recognises the injustices that Tuhoe has faced and venerates the endurance of its people".

"There is nothing that will erase the hurt of the discrimination, wrongdoings and injustice that Tuhoe has suffered at the hands of the colonial New Zealand Government - that will be forever a part of this nation's history.

"This settlement brings with it an understanding that contemporary Governments will act in good faith and hold themselves to account when dealing with this iwi."

He said, after years of negotiation, today is a day for celebration "of the on-going journey of the Tuhoe people and celebration for our nation".

"It has taken the New Zealand Government 150 years to give mana to this kaupapa and it has come not a day too soon for the people of Tuhoe."

There is still opposition within Tuhoe itself. Last week one hapu took its case to the Waitangi Tribunal saying it does not accept the settlement.

Tuhoe negotiators say they have done the best they can to get the best deal.

The Deed will be given effect through legislation, which will be introduced into Parliament soon.