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Turia: Maraeroa A and B Blocks Claims Settlement Bill

Hon Tariana Turia
Minister of State

9am Thursday 26 July 2012 SPEECH
Maraeroa A and B Blocks Claims Settlement Bill and the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Incorporation Bill

I move, That the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Claims Settlement Bill and the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Incorporation Bill be now read a third time.

Ki a koutou o Ngāti Rereahu hoki anō rā ki a Raukawa, Maniapoto, Tūwharetoa hoki, ngā mihi ki a koutou i tēnei te wiki o te reo Māori.

Ka hoki whakamuri ngā whakaaro ki tērā papa a Charlie Wehi kua hinga i ngā tau kua hipa. Ko ia te kai kereme tuatahi mo te paraka nei. I tukuna rātou te whānau ōna kereme ki a Piripi Crown i te wā o tōna matenga.

Na reira e te matua Charlie kua ea, kua tutuki te mahi moe mai rā. Huri noa ki a koutou o Maraeroa; Tēnā koutou katoa

We are honoured to welcome to the House the descendants of the original owners of Maraeroa A and B Blocks, Ngāti Rereahu, Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tuw’aretoa, and other iwi and hapū.

Today is a significant day, an opportunity to set the record straight, to acknowledge harms incurred, to put words to an all too familiar legacy of loss and dispossession. This story starts in the midst of the volcanic plateau to the south-east of Te Kūiti. The Maraeroa A and B Blocks are a subdivision of the Taupō-nui-a-Tia West Block, which was part of Te Rohe Pōtae district.

Maraeroa is the location of significant wāhi tapu. Within the Maraeroa Block rests the eponymous ancestor Rereahu, protected in the village of Ngā Herenga. The land is also rich in resources, regarded as a kono kai from which a wide range of food could be harvested for all the iwi of the surrounding districts. Into this lush location came the Native Land Court, and therein lies the history of grave injustice and dispossession.

The combined operation of the Native Land Court and Crown purchasing breached the Treaty of Waitangi and was inconsistent with its principles. The Crown failed to ensure the owners of Maraeroa A and B Blocks benefited from the sale of native timber on their lands. Survey discrepancies reduced the owners’ ability to even manage their own land.

Over successive years the people lost access to their wāhi tapu, ngā wāhi kohinga kai , their cultural resources and materials for construction, such as raupō for building whare. In all, their cultural connection to their ancestral lands were undermined, the lands more susceptible to partition, fragmentation, and alienation.

Today we face this history and we start a new chapter. This bill marks the beginning of a new relationship with the descendants of the original owners of the Maraeroa A and B Blocks. A new era began in September 2008. Draft terms of negotiation were signed with Te Maru o Rereahu Trust, and the Crown commenced exploratory work with Ngāti Rereahu interests in the blocks. The parties reached an agreed offer in July 2010, and then initialled a deed of settlement in December of the same year. Crown signed the deed of settlement with the descendants of the original owners on 12 March 2011 at Pā Harakeke.

As part of the process of healing and resolution, this bill formalises the Crown’s apology, wherein the Crown profoundly regrets and unreservedly apologises to the descendants of the original owners.

There is acknowledgment that the Crown and private parties benefited from the milling of the indigenous forests and that the milling of their forests removed the habitat of indigenous species.

We learn in no uncertain terms that failure to protect the collective tribal structures had a prejudicial effect on the owners.

The settlement bill includes the vesting of six sites of cultural and historical significant, $50,000 to purchase land of cultural significance, a high-level partnership agreement with the Department of Conservation over lands within Maraeroa A and B, an overlay classification over Pureora o Kahu, twelve statutory acknowledgments over culturally significant sites on Crown land, two official geographic name changes, a financial settlement of $1.8 million, the option to purchase part of Pureora North Crown forest licensed land and receive the associated accumulated rentals from the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, and the right of first refusal over certain Crown properties.

It is always impossible in describing such measures to really understand the impact of these initiatives in helping to shape out a new story for the descendants who will inherit this legislation.

The two bills together, the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Claims Settlement Bill and the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Incorporation Bill, provide a road map for future prosperity and well-being of their people. It has been a long and complex journey since 1884, when the Crown monopoly over purchasing altered the course of history by the sweep of a pen. I want to mihi to the trustees of Te Maru o Rereahu Trust , who gave their time, energy, and determination negotiating this settlement on behalf of all the descendants of the original owners of Maraeroa A and B Blocks. It is especially important to acknowledge Piripi Crown, Brian Stanley and Glen Katu for their skilful leadership in guiding the negotiations.

The legislation has been shepherded through the process due to the efforts of a highly diligent and enthusiastic Minister, the Hon Chris Finlayson, a constructive chair, an efficient Māori Affairs Committee, and the united commitment of this House to move these bills through in an expeditious way.

Finally, I want to refer to the words of Nōpera Panakāreao, who at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 said: “The shadow of the land goes to Queen Victoria, but the substance remains to us.” Less than a year later he was to say: “The substance of the land goes to the Europeans, and the shadow only will be our portion.” Today we hope that the cycle comes full circle and the substance returns to its rightful owners. I commend this bill to the House.


ENDS

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