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Background To Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Offer

Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Offer

Background to the settlement offer

The lakes have been the focal point for the relationship between the Crown and Te Arawa for over 100 years. In the early 20th century, Te Arawa petitioned and protested to the Crown concerning several grievances they held in relation to the lakes. Te Arawa sought clarity of the lakes' ownership in the courts from 1909. However, lengthy delays meant that the hearings did not start for several years after Te Arawa had applied to the Native Land Court.

In 1922 the Crown reached an out of court agreement with Te Arawa regarding the ownership litigation and other unresolved grievances. This agreement was enacted in part by the Native Land Claims and Native Land Adjustments Act 1922 (the 1922 Act). The 1922 Act declared the lakes to be the property of the Crown and provided benefits to Te Arawa including the right to take indigenous fish for their own use, and an annuity of £6,000 to be paid by the Crown to a Te Arawa Trust Board.

Te Arawa asked the Crown to review the annuity in the following decades, but the Crown failed to do so. The Te Arawa Maori Trust Board took this issue and other grievances to the Waitangi Tribunal, lodging the Te Arawa lakes claim (Wai 240) in April 1987. Rather than proceed with a hearing, Te Arawa decided to negotiate directly with the Crown. In December 1998 the Crown recognised the Trust Board’s mandate to negotiate the settlement of the Te Arawa lakes claim. Terms of Negotiation were subsequently signed in March 1999.

On 31 May 2001, in response to a request from the Trust Board, the Crown made an offer for the final and comprehensive settlement of the Te Arawa lakes claims. The Trust Board rejected the offer. Since then, intensive negotiations have focused on developing a settlement package that ensures fairness and certainty for both Te Arawa and the public. Te Arawa Maori Trust Board agreed to that package in principle today.

Summary of the settlement offer

Te Arawa Maori Trust Board has agreed in principle to the Crown’s offer that will settle the historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of Te Arawa against the Crown in relation to the Te Arawa lakes, and any issues relating to the annuity they receive from the Crown. The Crown's settlement offer recognises Te Arawa's cultural, historical and traditional association with the lakes, and includes the following elements:

An historical account and Crown acknowledgements that recognise the aspects of the relationship between the Crown and Te Arawa that gave rise to breaches of the Treaty. The Crown specifically acknowledges two breaches to date:

the Crown's failure to legislate for a sufficient number of fishing licences for Te Arawa in 1908 (when it promoted legislation to address the problem of hardship); and

the Crown’s failure to review the annuity paid to Te Arawa as part of the 1922 Te Arawa lakes agreement (when it materially lost value as a result of inflation).

A cultural redress package including:

transfer of title to the lakebeds in Crown ownership to Te Arawa, subject to ongoing public access to the lakes;

using settlement legislation to make the Rotorua Lakes Strategy Joint Committee a statutory body;

encouraging relationships between Te Arawa and other key organisations that have functions that impact on or relate to the lakes;

Statutory Acknowledgements over parts of the lakes remaining in Crown ownership;

an increase in the number of trout fishing licences provided to Te Arawa from 40 to 200 per year; and

protocols with government departments who exercise functions impacting on the lakes.

Financial redress totalling $10 million, consisting of two components:

$2.7 million for the resolution of all historical Treaty of Waitangi claims relating to the lakes; and

$7.3 million to buy out the annuity (currently $18,000 per year) Te Arawa receive from the Crown, and address any remaining annuity issues.

Lakes covered by the settlement offer

The lakes covered by the settlement are: Rotoehu, Rotoma, Rotoiti, Rotorua, Okataina, Okareka, Rerewhaakaitu, Tarawera, Rotomahana, Tikitapu (the Blue Lake), Ngahewa, Tutaeinanga, Opouri/Ngapouri and Ngakaro/Okaro (see attached map).

Transfer of ownership of the lakebeds

The lakebeds and subsoil of the Te Arawa lakes will be transferred to Te Arawa, protecting free public access to the lakes and lakebeds for lawful recreational purposes and rights of public navigation. This includes any commercial ventures, such as charter vessels, that operate on the waters of the lake.

The transfer of the title to the lakebeds will not affect the public’s rights to use the lakes for recreation or navigation purposes, such as swimming, boating, duck-shooting, fishing, temporary mooring, anchoring and wading through the lakes to get to boats. Commercial activities (including scenic tours, fishing tours, aircraft landing, motorised and non-motorised water transportation and charters, refuelling, and ticket sales) will also be protected through legislation.

Owners of existing structures (such as jetties, boatsheds and permanent moorings) in or anchored to the lakebeds will have the same rights and obligations with respect to those structures as they have now. Most jetty owners do not pay the Crown rent for the use of Crown land for their structures. If rent is not currently paid for a structure, this will continue for so long as the structure exists.

Individuals and businesses that wish to build new structures on the lakebed will need to ask the permission of Te Arawa after settlement. Te Arawa will have the ability to charge rent for the use of the lakebed in such cases. The resource consent process for such structures under the Resource Management Act will remain the same.

Strategic Management of the Te Arawa lakes

Settlement legislation will make the Rotorua Lakes Strategy Joint Committee a statutory body. The Committee currently oversees the strategic management of the lakes. The Committee is made up of two representatives each of Te Arawa, Environment Bay of Plenty and Rotorua District Council, all of whom have agreed to the Committee being formalised in legislation.

Next Steps

Te Arawa Maori Trust Board and the Crown will begin drafting a Deed of Settlement. All eligible registered members of the Te Arawa claimant community will then vote as to whether to accept the Crown's offer as set out in the Deed of Settlement. If the Te Arawa claimant community ratifies the Deed, a representative, transparent and accountable governance entity will be established to receive and manage the settlement redress, and the settlement will be implemented through legislation. Any final settlement is subject to resolution of any overlapping claims. Both Te Arawa Maori Trust Board and the Crown will consult with neighbouring iwi and hapü for that purpose.

For further information please contact Deborah Diaz (04) 471 9337 or (021) 864 811. Information about the Treaty settlement process in general is available on the Office of Treaty Settlements’ website www.ots.govt.nz

Questions and answers

Will the public be affected by the transfer of the title to the lakebeds to Te Arawa?

No. The public will not be affected by the transfer of the title to the lakebeds to Te Arawa. Free public access, rights of navigation and recreation will be guaranteed by the settlement legislation. This includes swimming, watersports, fishing, duckshooting, boating, aircraft landing and any other lawful recreational activity.

Will businesses that depend on the lakes be affected?

No. Business access to the lakes and activities on them, including scenic tours, fishing tours and guiding, aircraft landing, and water transport, will all be protected in the settlement.

Will structures on the lakebeds be affected?

Existing structures (such as jetties, boatsheds or permanent moorings) will not be affected. Individuals or businesses that wish to build new structures on the lakebeds will need to ask the permission of Te Arawa after settlement. Te Arawa will have the right to charge rent for the use of the lakebed in such cases.

When will the settlement take effect?

The Crown and Te Arawa Maori Trust Board aim to complete a detailed Deed of Settlement by mid 2004, which will then be subject to ratification by the eligible registered members of Te Arawa. If ratified, and a governance entity is developed to receive the settlement on behalf of Te Arawa, it is estimated that the Deed will be implemented by legislation in 2005. The Deed of Settlement will then be unconditional and the terms of the settlement will take effect.

Will the transfer of the lakebed infringe on private titles?

No. The Crown will only transfer what it currently owns.

What is the Rotorua Lakes Strategy Joint Committee?

The Committee is made up of two representatives from each of the following bodies: the Rotorua District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty and Te Arawa Maori Trust Board. It was established to give effect to the vision of the Strategy for the Lakes of the Rotorua District. At the request of the three bodies that make up the Committee, the settlement legislation will make statutory provision for the committee, its membership and functions.

Can Te Arawa make further historical Treaty of Waitangi claims to the lakes after the settlement legislation is passed?

No. If a Deed of Settlement is ratified by Te Arawa and passed into law, both parties agree that it will be a fair and final settlement for all Te Arawa’s historical Treaty claims to the lakes, which are defined as all claims relating to Crown acts and omissions prior to 21 September 1992. The settlement legislation, once passed, will prevent Te Arawa from re-litigating their historical claims before the Waitangi Tribunal or courts.

Will Te Arawa still receive their annuity?

No. The settlement also includes a buy-out of the annuity and resolves any issues relating to the annuity. The settlement legislation, once passed, will prevent Te Arawa from re-litigating the annuity issue before the Waitangi Tribunal or courts.

Does this settlement settle any of Te Arawa's claims over land?

No. Te Arawa are able to negotiate a settlement in relation to their historical land claims.

Will the settlement affect Fish and Game’s role in the lakes?

No. The Eastern Region Fish and Game Council’s management of the trout fishery and other activities will continue unimpeded by any part of this settlement.

Who will be responsible for maintaining the water quality of the lakes?

The local authorities will continue to administer the lakes under the Resource Management Act. The implementation of the Strategy for the Lakes of the Rotorua District is also a vital component to improving and maintaining the water quality of the lakes.

Does the transfer of the lakebeds to Te Arawa mean that the Crown will transfer the foreshore or seabed to Maori?

No. The resolution of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims and the current ownership of the foreshore and seabed are two separate issues. The Crown has transferred lakebeds in a number of previous settlements, including Ngai Tahu. Public access to the lakebeds has always been preserved in these cases.

What is the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board?

The Te Arawa Maori Trust Board was established by legislation in 1924 to administer, on behalf of the iwi of Te Arawa, the benefits received under the 1922 agreement. It was the first Maori Trust Board to be established.

Didn’t Te Arawa already have a settlement in 1922?

No. The 1922 agreement was not a Treaty settlement over the lakes, nor was the agreement confined to the lakes. It was an out of court agreement concerning ownership litigation and other unresolved grievances. The Crown and Te Arawa are not revisiting the 1922 agreement, but are settling Treaty grievances from 1840 to 1992.

What did the 1922 Act do?

The Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act 1922 was enacted to give effect to the 1922 agreement. The provisions of that Act declared the lakes to be the property of the Crown and extinguished any customary title that Te Arawa had to the lakes. The Act also reserved all of the islands in the lakes to Te Arawa, along with access across the waters of the lakes to the islands. Te Arawa’s right to fish for and catch indigenous fish in the lakes for their own use was also protected by the Act. The Act established the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board, which would receive an annuity of £6000 to administer for the benefit of all members of Te Arawa.

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