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Cullen: Te Roroa Claims Settlement Bill

Michael Cullen

25 September, 2008
Te Roroa Claims Settlement Bill

Speech notes

Madam Speaker, I move that the Te Roroa Claims Settlement Bill be now read a third time.

I stand to acknowledge the people of Te Roroa.

I welcome those of you who have travelled from Northland and are here in the galleries today to listen to this, the third reading of the Te Roroa Claims Settlement Bill.

I acknowledge you and all of those from Te Roroa who have worked hard to make this day possible. I acknowledge the many Te Roroa kuia and kaumatua who are no longer with us, who provided leadership and inspiration to the Te Roroa negotiators and to the Te Roroa people.

I am told that Te Roroa means the tall ones. That Te Roroa take their name from Manumanu II, their tupuna who was killed in battle. He was so brave that his enemies exclaimed, ‘Behold! That man is as tall as a white pine!’

Te Roroa are indeed the tall ones. They have stood tall through out their dealings with the Crown. They have conducted themselves with honour and dignity in even the most difficult times. And so I am pleased that many of you are here today to witness your Treaty settlement passing into law.

Madam Speaker this Bill settles the Treaty grievances of Te Roroa.

In this Bill the Crown formally acknowledges its breaches of the Treaty, offers an apology to Te Roroa and provides cultural, financial and commercial redress.

The passage of this Bill marks a historic point in time. A point where the Crown and Te Roroa stand together and look backwards as the Crown formally takes responsibility for its past actions. And we look forward as Te Roroa is reunited with its land and thus the means for its people to realise their true potential.

The people of Te Roroa have waited a long time for today.

Te Roroa have been seeking redress for the Crown’s breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi since at least 1861. In the 1980s they took their claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all those Te Roroa who went before the Tribunal, but in particular, Ned Nathan and Emily Paniora, two of the original Wai 38 claimants who are no longer with us.

Te Roroa were one of the first groups to come into Treaty settlement negotiations. It is 16 years since the Waitangi Tribunal released the Te Roroa report in 1992 and 15 years since negotiations commenced.

In 2004, after twelve years of negotiations the Crown and Te Roroa signed an Agreement in Principle.
In 2005 the work of the negotiators was acknowledged and endorsed by the Te Roroa people when they overwhelmingly ratified the settlement. And in December 2005 Te Roroa and the Crown signed the Deed of Settlement.

In late 2005 the Te Roroa people also ratified the governance entity, the Te Roroa Manawhenua Trust, to receive and manage the majority of the settlement assets. This Trust was established in August 2006. Te Roroa have also established a second trust, Te Roroa Whatu Ora Trust, which has a commercial focus and will receive and administer the commercial redress properties.

The passage of this Bill is the final step that will enable the Crown to provide the settlement redress to Te Roroa.

I know that most of the trustees of the governance entity are here today. I know that you have achieved a lot in the last 2 years. I wish you well. Your people have put their faith and trust in you and I am confident you will do what it is best for Te Roroa.

Madam Speaker in this Bill the Crown acknowledges it breached the Treaty in respect of Te Roroa. The breaches related to the cession of land at Te Kopuru in 1842, Crown land purchases from 1876 and the operation and impact of the native land laws.

These breaches have left Te Roroa virtually landless. In this settlement the Crown also acknowledges that the separation of Te Roroa from their wahi tapu and taonga has been a source of great spiritual and emotional pain for Te Roroa.

The settlement also includes financial and commercial redress worth $9.5 million. Te Roroa have decided to use this redress to purchase 15 Crown-owned properties. The properties include over 3,000 hectares of commercial forest and over 2,000 hectares of farmland and other properties. All of these properties provide Te Roroa with a platform for pursuing their economic aspirations.

A key component of Treaty settlements is cultural redress.

The Te Roroa Claims Settlement Bill provides for the gifting by the Crown of 24 sites of cultural significance comprising an area of over 2,000 hectares. Not only is this the largest cultural redress vesting in any settlement since Ngāi Tahu, but it also includes the return of two of the reserves recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal’s 1992 report, Manuwhetai and Whangaiariki.

The Te Roroa Claims Settlement Bill also includes redress designed to strengthen the relationship between Te Roroa and the Crown. For example it enables Te Roroa to have increased input into the protection of the Waipoua Forest, home to the mighty Tāne Mahuta, New Zealand’s largest kauri tree. Also underpinning this new relationship are protocols between Te Roroa and government departments.

I acknowledge that Treaty settlements do not fully compensate Maori for the losses they have suffered, either in economic or cultural terms. It is simply not possible to compensate Te Roroa fully for all of the prejudices and loss they have suffered. Many of Te Roroa’s losses relate to wahi tapu and taonga no longer held by their people. In fact I have heard the Te Roroa claim been described as a wāhi tapu claim reflecting the number of significant cultural and archaeological sites across their rohe.

The full force of this grief in respect of particular wahi tapu became clear during the Select Committee process.

The people of Te Roroa talked about Kaharau which could not returned through the settlement as it is currently in private ownership, and the Kohekohe taonga which are held by the Auckland Museum. The trustees of the Te Roroa governance entity also spoke of the financial difficulties facing Te Roroa in acquiring properties available for purchase under right of deferred selection provided for in the settlement

This government has taken steps, working with Te Roroa and other political parties, to find solutions to these issues that benefit everyone’s interests. These proposals were largely outside the Treaty settlement and have not required any amendment to this Bill. I am confident these measures will further strengthen the durability of this settlement.

The enactment of this settlement is an historic milestone for Te Roroa. It is also an important step in this country’s progress towards settling all historical Treaty claims.

Today is a significant day for Treaty settlements with the passage of the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill and the Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu Claims Settlement Bill, and with the first reading of the Wellington Taranaki Whānui Claims Settlement Bill and the Waikato River Claims Settlement Bill.

All these Bills represent significant progress and, in different ways, the resolution of complex and long standing Treaty claims. I acknowledge the work continuing around the country to achieve Treaty settlements.

Madam Speaker there are many people who have contributed to this settlement over the years. I acknowledge the contributions of the first Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, the Hon Sir Douglas Graham, to the early stages of the negotiations.

I also acknowledge my predecessor, the Hon Mark Burton, who negotiated and signed the Deed of Settlement on behalf of the Crown, and the Hon Margaret Wilson, who re-newed negotiations when they had stalled. I also acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues, in particular the Minister of Māori Affairs, the Minister of Conservation, the Minister of Land and Information, and the Associate Minister of Finance.

I would also like to acknowledge the valuable support and contribution made by the Associate Ministers in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Mita Ririnui and Shane Jones, and the work of the many government officials and departments who contributed to this settlement.

Most importantly I wish to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of Te Roroa and its negotiators and leaders.

The heart of the Te Roroa rohe is the Waipoua forest, home of the Kauri tree. And my hope for Te Roroa is that this settlement is like a kauri seedling. Starting small but in the years to come growing into a tall and mighty tree, providing a canopy of shelter for those around it. I am certain that with the benefit of Te Roroa’s leadership and the revitalisation of its mana and identity, future generations in Northland and throughout New Zealand will receive a strong and enduring legacy from this settlement.

I wish all the best for Te Roroa, your elders, your descendants, the negotiating team, and the trustees of the Te Roroa Manawhenua and Whatu Ora Trusts.

I commend this bill to the House.


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