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‘Children of the Mist’ to have their Day in Court

Media release
Monday Nov 24

‘Children of the Mist’ to have their Day in Court

Some of the bloodiest chapters in New Zealand history will be revisited in hearings today (Eds: Monday Nov 24) as the Waitangi Tribunal embarks on a major new inquiry.

Hearings will start this morning at Tataiahape Marae, in the eastern Bay of Plenty town of Waimana, on 33 Treaty claims.

Most claims are from Ngai Tuhoe, known as the ‘Children of the Mist’ whose land once extended from Opotiki, through the Ureweras to Lake Waikaremoana and beyond.

The Tuhoe claims have been described as some of the worst injustices perpetrated during the colonial era, followed by more than a century of blunders that failed to put matters right.

The iwi will have strong academic support for their case.

Judith Binney, Professor of History at the University of Auckland, will tell the Tribunal about her research into the relationship between Urewera Maori and the Crown up till 1878.

The Government confiscated large tracts of the iwi’s most productive land as punishment for the murders of missionary Karl Volkner and a secret military agent, James Fulloon, in 1865.

“Tuhoe were not involved in either death,” Professor Binney’s Tribunal submission says.

"The Government’s intention was to create military settlements, and to sell most of the potential farming land to Europeans to recover its military costs."

Tuhoe’s leaders were confronted by “a scale of prejudice, aggressive government activities and extreme settler self-interest that they could not deflect. These attitudes made their goal of partnership unachievable in the years that followed.”

Professor Binney’s research was funded by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, which helps research Treaty of Waitangi claims involving Crown forestry land.

The Trust’s research projects manager, Leah Campbell, says 10 years of work has gone into preparing the Urewera claims.

“This is one of the most intensively researched projects ever to go to the Waitangi Tribunal,” she says. “We’ve worked long and hard with the local iwi. The result is evidence of a very high standard.”

The research material includes detailed maps showing what happened to land that once belonged to Tuhoe and its neighbours.

This week the four tribunal members will hear evidence about the land confiscations and why Compensation Court rejected Tuhoe claims of serious injustice in 1867.

They will also hear about military invasions of the Ureweras in the 1860s and 70s and how these led to more land losses.

Twelve weeks of Tribunal hearings are programmed over the next 18 months. They will cover a wide range of Urewera claims from the 1860s to the present day.


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