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Maori Trust Board Philosophical About Redress

9 June 2006

Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board Philosophical About Redress Package

Hapu negotiators are philosophical about the signing of an Agreement in Principle (AIP) between Ngati Whatua o Orakei and the Crown to settle historical grievances and say it is the best possible deal that could be agreed given the Crown's framework for resolving Treaty issues.

They will now take the AIP to the people of Ngati Whatua o Orakei for discussion before it is voted on.

What is important for Ngati Whatua o Orakei is that both parties agreed an historical account of what actually happened as a starting point for negotiations.

That historical account shows that it was the Crown's policy to buy land as cheaply as possible and on-sell it for very high prices.

At the time of the land sales Ngati Whatua o Orakei had had little contact with Europeans and had no experience of land transfers under English law. In one auction in 1841, the Crown received £24,475 for 44 acres of a 3500-acre block it had paid Ngati Whatua £273 for only six months before. 136,000 acres of Ngati Whatua land was lost by 1855.

The British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, the Marquis of Normanby, had stated that all land dealings with Maori should be conducted on the principles of "sincerity, justice and good faith", adding that Maori "must not be permitted to enter into any contracts in which they might be ignorant and unintentional authors of injuries to themselves."

Ngati Whatua o Orakei at that time had a different picture of what was being offered as a 'sale'. In pre-European times a system of tuku rangatira was applied which enabled a rangatira to form alliances by transferring land to another group as a qualified transfer, similar to a lease, with the mana or title being retained by the donor rangatira. In that way the land was returned to the owner when the use it was lent for no longer applied.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei Trust Board chairman Sir Hugh Kawharu says the post-Treaty land deals should never have been allowed to happen in the way that they did. He says even the British Government at the time had instructed Governor Hobson to set aside between 15 and 20 percent of the revenue from the on-sales of land to promote the "health, civilisation, education and spiritual care of the natives." It never happened.

"How do we get back our lost land, our lost entitlements and 166 years of lost opportunity? We can't. But we have negotiated with the Crown a package of redress that takes us some way and allows us to move forward positively."

"That package includes the restoration of our mana whenua (customary authority) in the eyes of the Crown and acknowledgement by the Crown that it breached its obligations. It also returns to our guardianship and ownership key cultural and historical sites – Maungawhau/Mt Eden, Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill, Puketapapa/Mount Roskill and the Purewa Stewardship Area.

"These sites will remain as they are and all Aucklanders will have full access just as they do now."

Sir Hugh says the financial aspects of the redress package have been carefully negotiated and must be considered in the context of Ngati Whatua o Orakei's strong capability in the area of commercial property development.

"While the cash component of the settlement is not large, the Crown has a set of criteria and will not accept that one acre of land in the Kaipara or in Invercargill has a different value to an acre of land in the Auckland CBD.

"We therefore turned our attention to other aspects of potential settlement and have negotiated the opportunity to purchase at market value any surplus central Auckland Crown land through a Right of First Refusal."

He says in addition they have the opportunity to purchase up to $80 million of land that is now the residential naval properties on the North Shore with a Right Of First Refusal over the remainder naval housing in that area.

"Our experience in commercial property means that, with careful management, we will be able to turn the cash settlement, the Right of First Refusal and the opportunity to purchase the naval land into a significant income stream for our people in the very near future."

To the people of Auckland Sir Hugh says it is time Ngati Whatua o Orakei and all Aucklanders got to know each other better.

"We have a beautiful city, a dynamic history and a shared future. Once we have moved from the Agreement in Principle and hopefully to the Deed of Settlement we can put the grievances of the past behind us and all look positively forward.

"I do urge people to read the Agreed Historical Account as knowledge of the past adds richness to our lives."

He says the focus for the hapu will be to improve the health of its people, ensure that all the people of Ngati Whatua o Orakei have good educational opportunities in front of them and they make good use of those opportunities.

"I also want our people to understand more about our history, our customs and our language as we are tangata whenua and will be for all generations to come."

The Ngati Whatua o Orakei area of interest covers Auckland City (except Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands), the bulk of Waitakere and North Shore Cities and small parts of northern Manukau City.

ENDS

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