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PM: Address at 40th Koroneihana Anniversary

Monday 22 May 2006

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister

Address at 40th Koroneihana Anniversary of Te Atairangikaahu

Turangawaewae Marae Ngaruawahia

Monday 22 May 2006

Te Arikinui, rau rangatira ma, tena koutou.

It is good to be back on the mahau of Maahinarangi, at Turangawaewae, nestled on the banks of the Waikato River.

I pay my respects to Te Ao Peehi Kara, Bishop Max Mariu, and all others who have passed away since my last visit here.

I acknowledge the many who, in the past, have helped make this very special marae a magnificent centre of culture, learning, and heritage.

My colleagues and I have come on this special occasion to pay tribute to you, Dame Te Ata, and to offer you sincere and heartfelt congratulations.

I also greet and acknowledge your distinguished guests: Princess Kekaulike Kawananakoa from Hawaii, and His Excellency Frederick Goodwin, Queen’s Representative for the Cook Islands.

Dame Te Ata, it is forty years since you first took up the leadership mantle of the confederated tribes of Tainui under your flag, Te Paki o Matariki.

Your flag was designed at the request of your tupuna Tawhiao to symbolize peace and calm in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Your stewardship has exemplified that principle.

With quiet dignity, humour, compassion, and great foresight you have woven an exquisite kaupapa in leading your people.

You have introduced many strands to your work which have led to greater wellbeing amongst Maori and their whanau.

Maori language revitalisation, Maori education, and promotion of Maori culture, arts and sport are among your wide range of interests.

You have created a rich, overall texture which encourages mutual recognition, understanding, and appreciation amongst New Zealanders for each other.

The people of New Zealand have benefited greatly from your wisdom.

Your enlightened vision set out to the Maori Women’s Welfare League in 1982 was one of building harmony and promoting tolerance for the “flowering of cultures that severally make up the identity of New Zealand.”

The kaupapa you have promoted has also reached out to embrace leaders and others beyond the shores of our country.

Your contribution to Maoridom and to New Zealand has been truly extraordinary.

I thank you, and my government thanks you.

Dame Te Ata, in recent months there has been much activity between the Crown and Waikato Tainui’s co-negotiators, Lady Raiha Mahuta and Tukoroirangi Morgan.

Your co-negotiators have picked up the work undertaken in the past to progress Waikato Tainui’s River claim.

We particularly remember at this time the leadership of the late Sir Robert Mahuta in the 1995 raupatu settlement and in the early negotiations on the River claim.

The renewed focus and energy on the negotiation of the Waikato Tainui River Claim has been on constructive work toward reaching a significant milestone in this fortieth anniversary year of your leadership.

The River claim arises from the raupatu of the nineteenth century.

In 1995, the Crown accepted that it acted unjustly and in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi in its dealings with the Kingitanga and Waikato in sending its forces across the Mangataawhiri in July 1863.

The Crown’s invasion was by land and by river, and this was a double blow to Waikato Tainui.

Her Majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand apologised for the Crown’s actions to Waikato on 3 November 1995.

Now the negotiation of the River claim, put aside at the time of the negotiation of the 1995 Raupatu settlement, is well underway.

Terms of negotiation on the River claim were signed before Christmas last year.

The government has responded to the challenge of the co-negotiators to get the river claim on track toward settlement.

This fits well with our policy of moving to complete settlements of all historical Treaty claims.

The Crown also has in its possession a powerful symbol and reminder of its responsibility to work for the completion of settlement of the Waikato Tainui claims.

I refer to Te Raupatu, the greenstone mere gifted to the Crown on the signing of the Deed of Settlement for raupatu claims eleven years ago today.

This precious gift, which is on display at Government House in Wellington, symbolises the solemn agreement entered into by the Crown and Waikato Tainui on that occasion.

We remember your words then:

“Te Raupatu invokes recovery, healing, and renewal.”

Te Raupatu is an eloquent symbol for Ministers of the Crown and for Parliament of the obligations to be fulfilled in the Waikato Tainui claims.

The Crown treasures this taonga.

I acknowledge the custom which accompanies such a significant gift.

The Crown will return the taonga, Te Raupatu, to Waikato Tainui in the future on the settlement and closure of the historical Treaty claims.

With that in mind, I turn now to the progress made in recent weeks.

The Crown acknowledges the importance of Waikato Tainui’s principles of “te mana o te awa” and “mana whakahaere” which you bring to the negotiations.

The description by the co-negotiators of the significance of the river to Waikato Tainui has been powerfully made to the Crown.

And we have heard the vision which Waikato Tainui has for the restoration of the health of the river.

We appreciate that the Waikato River is a source of tribal mana to be recognised and protected.

The Waikato River has deep cultural and spiritual meaning to the Waikato Tainui people.

In these negotiations, the Crown recognises and shows the utmost respect to Waikato-Tainui’s relationship with the River and its significance to your people. The uniqueness of Waikato Tainui’s relationship with the River greatly enriches the cultural fabric of New Zealand society and is something I believe we should cherish, value, and protect.

We acknowledge Waikato Tainui’s view that the River is your Tupuna ancestor.

The Crown is also aware that there are other iwi who express interests in parts of the River. These will need to be appropriately recognised and consistent with Waikato Tainui's principle of mana whakahaere.

Among these is Ngati Tuwharetoa, represented here today by Ariki Tumu Te Heuheu, who have interests at the source of the river.

The Waikato River has significance for other New Zealanders too, particularly those who live in the Waikato region.

Your co-negotiators also recognise that other, non Waikato Tainui users of the River enjoy public and third party rights and interests.

The challenge of these negotiations is to realise a model to carry forward Waikato Tainui’s vision to establish guardians to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the River.

The Crown is pleased to have Environment Waikato contributing to these negotiations.

Dame Te Ata, the negotiation of the River claim reflects the new age of co-operation ushered in by the 1995 Raupatu settlement.

The Crown is seeking to achieve a settlement which will assist Waikato Tainui to reaffirm their relationship with the Waikato River for present and future generations.

The Crown also seeks a settlement which will enhance the ongoing relationship between the Crown and Waikato Tainui and restore the honour of the Crown.

The negotiations are well advanced towards achieving these goals and completing what was begun in 1995.

The Crown and your negotiators agree that the talks so far have brought clarity to the issues which confront us and given focus to the matters of concern to both parties.

Dame Te Ata, I thank your co-negotiators and their advisers for their principled, hard-working approach.

And I thank the Crown team of ministers and advisers for responding with dedication and hard work in pursuit of our common goal.

I can assure you that negotiations will resume immediately after these celebrations. The Crown is very serious about reconciliation with Waikato Tainui on the River claim.

Dame Te Ata, my very best wishes to you and your family on this occasion of the Fortieth Anniversary since you were proclaimed Te Arikinui.

No reira, tena koutou katoa.

ENDS

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