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Ngäi Tahu gifts Land of Tears to New Zealanders

11 July 2006

Ngäi Tahu gifts Land of Tears to New Zealanders

Te Rünanga o Ngäi Tahu has gifted iconic South Island high country to the people of New Zealand as a memorial to the past and signal of hope for the future, Minister in Charge of Treaty Negotiations, Hon Mark Burton, said today.

Representatives of the Crown, including Conservation Minister Chris Carter and Associate Conservation Minister Mahara Okeroa, and senior Ngäi Tahu leaders celebrated the gifting at a special ceremony at the mouth of the Greenstone River.

The gifted land, known as Ka Whenua Roimata - Land of Tears, was part of three Queenstown high country stations Ngäi Tahu purchased as part of the Deed of Settlement in 1997. Under the Deed, the Crown agreed to sell the Elfin Bay, Routeburn and Greenstone Stations to Ngäi Tahu. This includes about 33,400 hectares of land around and inland from the north-western shore of Lake Wakatipu.

The formal transfer of the three high country stations is one of the final outstanding issues remaining from the Deed. The gifted areas will be held by the Department of Conservation and managed as conservation areas.

“As a memorial to the suffering of the people of Ngäi Tahu, and in recognition of the high conservation value of the mountainous areas of the High Country stations, Te Rünanga is transferring 4200 hectares back to the Crown as a gift to the people of New Zealand,” Mark Solomon, Te Rünanga o Ngäi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere, said.

“This has been an important land transaction,” Mark Burton said. “I am pleased that the formal transfer has now taken place. These stations are iconic parts of New Zealand’s landscape and history. On behalf of the people of New Zealand, the Crown accepts Ngäi Tahu’s gift of Ka Whenua Roimata with gratitude.”

Te Rünanga has leased a further 25,000 hectares back to the Crown in perpetuity, to be managed by the Department of Conservation as conservation areas. Te Rünanga is allowed to graze sheep and cattle in specified parts of these areas until November 2008.

The remaining 4200 hectares (the station areas) will be retained by Te Rünanga as freehold land. The transfer of the station areas is subject to various easements and covenants including the provision of public foot access over the Greenstone/Caples Track and other parts.

Ngäi Tahu has been successfully farming the station areas since November 1999, although the Crown retained legal title to the properties. Since then, extensive survey work has been undertaken to allow for the separation of the gift and lease back areas from the station areas.

ENDS

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