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Harawira: Waikato Tainui Raupatu Settlement Bill

Waikato Tainui Raupatu Claims Waikato River Settlement Bill

Hone Harawira, Maori Party Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Thursday 25 September 2008; 3pm

This is the first reading of a bill which only reached our desk a couple of hours ago, so please excuse me if I don’t say too much about the detail of the bill.

Suffice to say though that we recognise that this bill was borne out of:

• the denial of guardianship of the Waikato River to its people;

• anger at the desecration, pollution and depletion of the awa;

• sadness at the use of the river as but a resource to be exploited; and

• despair at the pollution and depletion of the fisheries

We know that there are those within Tainui who may still have doubts about co-ownership and co-management,

• we know they will look to the Deed to see how their rangatiratanga has been recognised and included,

• we know that this settlement will give impetus to others to also take up the challenge of negotiating their role on the river, and

• we know too of the significant relationships that others have to the river,and the concerns that they will undoubtedly have about this settlement.

But today is not just about recognising the tragedy of the past,and the problems of the present.

Today we are proud to join with others in this House:

• in acknowledging all of the peoples of Waikato Tainui;

• in acknowledging te mana o te awa o Waikato – that special authority and prestige of the Waikato River which defines its people and itself, through the saying ko ahau ko te awa, ko te awa ko hau;

• in acknowledging the timing of the signing of the Deed of Settlement on the second anniversary of the coronation of King Tuheitia;

• in acknowledging the many people who devoted all of their lives to enable us to reach this point today, and in particular the legacy of Sir Robert Te Kotahi Mahuta; who with the unwavering support of Te Atairangi Kahu led the negotiations for the first major Treaty settlement with the Crown;

• and in acknowledging all those who have passed on, so too do we also acknowledge those who have taken up the challenge, to protect the mana of the river, and to guide future generations of its people, under the careful direction of Tukuroirangi Morgan and Lady Raiha Mahuta.

Today we also celebrate a multi-tribal 21st birthday party for Waikato Tainui, who along with Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika, and Te Roroa; all took the initiative in 1987, to lodge claims with the Waitangi Tribunal, and which have all appeared on today’s order paper thanks in great part to Dr Michael Cullen, and all those other Members of Parliament who have helped bring these bills to the House today.

And in considering this bill:

• we acknowledge the Crown’s commitment to a thirty year $200m river clean-up programme;

• we acknowledge the Guardians of the River, who will be responsible for working with local authorities and iwi, to oversee the vision and the strategy for cleaning up the river;

• we acknowledge the establishment of a board, to ensure full participation by Waikato-Tainui in co-management of the river;

• and we acknowledge the co-management arrangements, dedicated to restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of the awa, and managing the awa through good faith, consensus decision-making, and a bold partnership between crown agencies and iwi.

To Tuku and Lady Raiha, we congratulate you for the diligent way in which Waikato-Tainui have approached the overall purpose, of restoring and protecting the awa, and in doing so, I quote from the Indigenous Declaration on Water which was signed in Kyoto in 2003, and which says:

“We recognise, honour and respect water as sacred and sustaining of all life. Our traditional knowledge, laws, and ways of life, teach us to be responsible, in caring for this sacred gift, that connects all life.”

We congratulate you for the vision that you have set

• for yourselves as a people,

• for yourselves as your awa, and

• for yourselves as a community within the wider society.

Hei whakakapi i täku korero e Tuku, e Raiha, I sincerely hope that the vision that you have for a river that sustains life and prosperity, through the caring and guidance of its whanau, will set a benchmark for us all,

and I know I speak for all of my colleagues in the Maori Party when I say that:

• we urge you to keep pushing forward, that other iwi might be guided by your actions, and learn from whatever mistakes you have made, and undoubtedly will continue to make in the future;

• we challenge you to bring the best that you have to this task, that the whole country might learn from your bold initiatives;

• we wish you well in all that lies ahead of you, and;

• we look forward to continuing this debate when the House returns in 2009.


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