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Justice At Last For Ngati Ruanui

PRESS STATEMENT EMBARGO
7 September 1999 4 pm

The Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Rt Hon Sir Douglas Graham, said today the signing of a Heads of Agreement between the Crown and Ngati Ruanui of Taranaki was justice at last for an iwi that had waited for more than 140 years for its grievances to be fairly addressed.

"Today marks a new beginning for a proud iwi which suffered greatly during the last century. More than 83,000 hectares of land were unjustly confiscated following Ngati Ruanui's support of other iwi of Taranaki as they attempted to retain their traditional lands. Troops occupied their land and evicted members of the hapu, inflicting loss of life and destroying their homes and crops," said Sir Douglas.

The Minister said that when some land was subsequently returned it was leased by the Government to European farmers in perpetuity, thus preventing the true owners from ever regaining possession.

"For a very long time now Ngati Ruanui has sought proper redress for Crown breaches of its Treaty obligations. With agreement now reached with the iwi negotiators the next step is for each member of the iwi to vote whether or not to accept the Crown's offer," Sir Douglas explained.

The Minister said that he was very pleased with what had been achieved and he paid a tribute to the constructive way the iwi had approached the negotiations.

"The intention of both sides is to try to prevent the grievance being handed on to future generations, to move from grievance to development, to renew the relationship for the future and to ensure that Ngati Ruanui can take its proper place as an important player in its community," Sir Douglas concluded.

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