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Crown signing of Ngati Awa Governance Bill

Crown signing of Ngati Awa Governance and Settlement Bills

Members of Ngati Awa traveled to Wellington this week to witness the signing of their Governance and Settlement Bills following the Final readings of the two Bills in Parliament, both historical events for the Eastern Bay of Plenty tribe.

Ngati Awa of the Bay of Plenty has a register of 17,000 members distributed across its 22 hapu.

The Ngati Awa group of some 40 people listened quietly to the third reading and passing of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa Bill yesterday. This afternoon the same group of people, who had traveled by bus from Whakatane, then witnessed the passage of the Runanga o Ngati Awa Settlement Bill through its third and final reading.

“This has been a long an arduous task and many of those who began the journey with us in the late 1970s are no longer alive. Nevertheless I know they will be smiling down at us as we carry forward their dreams and aspirations,” said Professor Hirini Mead who has led the negotiations for the last 25 years.

“We signed a Heads of Agreement with the Crown on 21 December 1998 and progressed on to the signing of the Deed of Settlement in March 2003” said Professor Mead.

As part of the Deed of Settlement, Te Runanga o Ngati Awa agreed to restructure the current Runanga and developed a new Charter. “Under our Charter the new Runanga will be directing the affairs of the iwi towards a phase of positive development on several fronts” Professor Mead said.

Wira Gardiner the interim chief executive of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa said that the passage of the bills completed one stage of Ngati Awa’s journey of recovery from the devastation of the 19th century when Ngati Awa lost most of its arable lands.

“This settlement has been hard fought for and we owe it to our forebears to ensure that it does provide a secure economic base for our children and grand-children,” he said.

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