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Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Claims Settlement Bill: Second Reading

Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Minister of Māori Affairs

8 May 2014

Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Claims Settlement Bill: Second Reading Speech

I am pleased to rise in support of the second reading of the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Claims Settlement Bill.

Mr Speaker, this Bill has been a long time in the making, going back almost four years to the day on 18 May 2010, when Ngāti Koroki Kahukura received a mandate to enter into Treaty settlement negotiations with the Crown.

This settlement before us would not have been possible without the knowledge and dedication of those trustees and negotiators.

And although the negotiations took around four years to get to this point today, the journey has been much longer.

Today, I stand to support this Bill because of its role in addressing the wrongs imposed by the Crown on Ngāti Koroki Kahukura.

The willingness of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura to engage in negotiations with the Crown despite those wrongs, is honourable and deserves recognition.

Mr. Speaker, had the Crown possessed the same virtues in its dealings with Ngāti Koroki Kahukura since the 1860s - the failings and grave injustices that bring us here today may well have been avoided.

In 1863, war broke out resulting in the deaths of some Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and the capture of others including their esteemed rangatira Tioriori.

Despite their preference for peace, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura were named rebels and for that had much of their land confiscated.

But still this iwi maintained their interests in their homeland, including:
• from Karapiro along the Pukekura Range and through Rotorangi and Puahue in the west;
• from Maungatautari 4 and 5 blocks to the top of Lake Arapuni in the south;
• then following the Waikato River back to Piarere in the East; and
• from Piarere to the south of the Maungakawa Reserve, back to Karapiro in the north.

Ko Maungatautari te maunga
Ko Waikato te awa tupuna
Ko Ngāti Koroki Kahukura te iwi

Maungatautari was and remains their tipuna, their ancestral mountain, central to their identity.

Yet in the 19th century, the land in and around the maunga fell victim to Crown-imposed tenure reform.

As a result, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura was involved in more than 50 Native Land Court hearings before 1901.

Swamps and wetlands were drained, and the Waikato River polluted. Hydroelectric power schemes depleted their traditional fisheries and flooded culturally significant sites.

By the end of the 20th century Ngāti Koroki Kahukura had become virtually landless.

However, Mr Speaker, the history of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura is yet another volume in the stories of this country that some of us know - yet many New Zealanders do not.

Today, this Bill seeks to rectify these and other wrongs imposed by the Crown on Ngāti Koroki Kahukura.

This Bill records a history of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, and the Crown apology to Ngāti Koroki Kahukura for:
• the operation of the native land and public works legislation;
• the failure of the Crown to protect the traditional tribal structures of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura;
• the Crown’s failure to recognise and provide for their relationship to Maungatautari and Waikato River; and
• Crown policies and laws which led to the economic, social, environmental and cultural degradation of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and their physical and spiritual resources.

Mr Speaker, this Bill also enables us look forward to a new era in the Crown’s relationship with Ngāti Koroki Kahukura.

Ko Maungatautari te maunga

The Maungatautari Mountain Scenic Reserve will be guarded by Te Hapori o Maungatautari. The transfer of ownership recognises the iconic and spiritual importance of this maunga to Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and others in the community.

Ko Waikato te awa tupuna

Through this settlement, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura will have statutory acknowledgments and deeds of recognition over particular sites including the Waikato River and its tributaries within the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura area of interest; and the same for Lake Arapuni and Lake Karapiro.

This settlement also means Ngāti Koroki Kahukura will be involved in the co-management arrangements for the Waikato River within their area through Waikato-Tainui.

Ko Ngāti Koroki Kahukura te iwi

Mr Speaker, the Bill we consider today confirms that the Crown is deeply sorry and profoundly apologises to the ancestors and descendants of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura for the hardship they have endured.

The way that Ngāti Koroki Kahukura engaged with other iwi and the wider community during negotiations is a good example for the Crown, which, in its longer history of dealing with Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, was guilty of shutting them out.

The graciousness of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura during these negotiations has thus been a defining characteristic of this settlement.

As I said at the beginning of this speech, Mr Speaker, had the Crown possessed the same virtues in its dealings with Ngāti Koroki Kahukura - then the heartaches and injustices that have brought us here today may well have been avoided.

Mr Speaker, the histories of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and of other iwi in similar circumstances are part of our collective and shared histories. It is a shame that these histories are not always known, and I repeat the call I have made many times in this House that our histories should be taught in our schools - so we all know the truth and are not doomed to repeat it.

This Bill goes some way to right the wrongs that happened to Ngāti Koroki Kahukura. I support the passing of this Bill, as it will make us richer as a nation.

No reira, kia ora koutou.

ENDS

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