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Third Reading Speech: Waitaha Claims Settlement Bill

Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Minister of Māori Affairs

6 June 2013

Third Reading Speech: Waitaha Claims Settlement Bill

Parliament, 11.50pm

Ko Ōtawa te maunga

Ko Te Rapa-rapa-a-hoe te awa

Ko Hei te tupuna

Ko Takakopiri te tangata

Ko Te Arawa te waka

Ko Waitaha te Iwi.

Mr Speaker, I am honoured to welcome the children of Hei, the people of Waitaha to New Zealand’s House of Representatives. Descendents of Hei of the great Te Arawa waka.

Nau Mai, Haere Mai.

The story of Waitaha is hugely significant: an iwi whose members have never yielded to the Crown.

A people devastated by the cumulative effect of the Crown’s acts, omissions and breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.

As he stood aboard the deck of Te Arawa Waka and looked to Ōtawa Maunga, the tipuna Hei declared:

“Te takapu o taku tama, o Waitahanui a Hei”

Let this land be the living land of my son, Waitaha.

Over time, the uri of Hei settled along the coast extending from Katikati to Ōtamarākau and to the island of Tuhua. Waitaha has close whakapapa links with Tauranga, Waikato, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Arawa. By the eighteen forties, Waitaha primarily occupied the land between Tauranga harbour in the west, and the Waiari River in the east, as well as staying inland.

Mr Speaker, the people before us today are living proof that the children of Waitaha have kept this ancient promise. A promise kept across generations, through incredible hardship, in the face of unnecessary suffering.

“Te takapu o taku tama, o Waitahanui a Hei.”

These living lands of the people of Waitahanui.

But it has not been an easy promise to keep.

Much of the unnecessary suffering borne by Waitaha families took place after the Crown brought war to their homelands a few decades after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

The Waitaha prophet, Hakaraia Mahika blended Christian philosophies with Māori teachings and preached peaceful engagement with Pākehā for the first part of his life. However as he witnessed the loss of Māori lands and lives across Aotearoa, as the Crown invaded Waikato and edged towards Waitaha: Hakaraia the spiritual leader also became a warrior leader.

He would spend the latter half of his life fighting against the confiscation of Māori lands and would ultimately die defending them. When his body was found in the Waioeka Gorge, he was draped in the Kingitanga flag.

Mr Speaker.

The reputation of this incredible New Zealander has been tainted in the official history of this country.

The Crown’s Tauranga confiscations were unjust and yet Hakaraia Mahika was killed because he opposed them. He was labelled a rebel. Homes, crops, livestock and belongings of Waitaha people were burned to the ground under the Crown’s scorched earth policy. Survivors fled. Much of the ancestral and wāhi tapu lands of Waitaha were confiscated and remain so to this day. Such was the loss of Waitaha families that the following lament would shape their dealings with the Crown over successive generations:

“Ko Waitaha te iwi, he tangata ngakaurua”

Waitaha, once powerful, but due to the loss of land, now divided.

Mr Speaker, without the land and resources to take ownership of their own destiny, the Crown denied generations of Waitaha people the right to determine their own economic and social wellbeing. By confiscating sacred sites – such as Ōtawa Maunga, the mountain of Hei from Te Arawa waka – the Crown also sought to deny the people of Waitaha their cultural treasures.

This land loss, this identity loss, coupled with the stigma of raupatu, meant the Crown actively sought to deny descendents of Hei and Waitaha the right to uphold their own mana motuhake, the right to exercise their own rangatiratanga.

Today’s settlement is made up of cultural, financial and commercial redress. Cultural redress includes the vesting of cultural sites and reserves and a Crown acknowledgement of Waitaha values regarding their wāhi tapu, referred to as Te Whakairinga Kōrero. The Crown will provide statutory acknowledgement of Waitaha statements of their particular cultural, spiritual, historical and traditional association with fifteen areas, including the peak of the maunga tupuna Ōtanewainuku, beds of several watercourses, including the Kaituna River and the coastal area between Mauao and Maketu.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to announce that one point three million dollars has already been provided to Waitaha to prepare a full historical account of Waitaha and Hakaraia, and for a contribution to the restoration of Hei Marae and other cultural support purposes.

The Crown will provide letters to Ministers encouraging support for Maranga Waitaha, a link to Government initiatives to assist the social, economic and cultural needs of Waitaha. The Crown will also provide letters of introduction to local authorities; and the Crown will institute three Ministerial protocols relating to taonga tūturu, conservation and Crown minerals.

Financial redress for Waitaha includes a payment of seven point five million dollars plus interest from the Agreement in Principle, signed in March two thousand and eight.

Commercial redress for Waitaha includes a right to purchase three landbank properties on settlement; a right to purchase five sites on sale and lease-back provisions and a right to purchase landbank properties.

I have already spoken of how generations of Waitaha families have kept alive the promise of their tipuna, how they have remained and kept the ahi kā of their line, mai rānō.

“Te takapu o taku tama, o Waitahanui a Hei”

Let this land be the living land of my son, Waitaha.

Today as we read this bill for the third time, the descendents of Hei are also keeping another promise.

This bill also pays tribute to Hakaraia Mahika and the important legacy he leaves his descendents: spiritual leader, rangatira, and warrior.

As his name in the official history of our country is restored, it is right that the Hakaraia Mahika Endowment Fund will nurture and support future Waitaha leaders.

A rangatira who died fighting for his people’s right to rangatiratanga, to mana motuhake.

And yet throughout it all, Hakaraia Mahika’s undying hope was peace for his people. Everlasting peace for the descendents of Waitaha.

Generations later, Hakaraia’s people are here. Through their mahi and sacrifice, through their leadership and rangatiratanga in working with the Crown as well as neighbouring iwi.

Hakaraia’s vision of peace for Waitaha will soon be fulfilled

From today it will also live on in New Zealand law.

All those things taken from the families of Waitaha due to the actions of the Crown can never be totally replaced. And yet today, the families of Waitaha seek to settle their grievances with the Crown with mana, with honour.

Mai i te Rae o Pāpāmoa, ki Te Ōkere o Mua, te Ōkere o Tua

Ki te wehenga whakamutunga o Tamatekapua

Ki Ōtawa ki te rangi te Ūpoko o Hei, ki Te Kirikiri te Ūpokonui

Te Ūpoko o Taranui, whakawhiti atu i Te Ara a Hei

Ki Ōtanewainuku, te maunga o ngā patupaiarehe, he maunga tipua.

Ka mihi ki a Pūwhenua.

Ka mihi ki a Mauao.

“Te takapu o taku tama, o Waitahanui a Hei”

These living lands of the people of Waitahanui.


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