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Maori claim home of Treaty of Waitangi

Maori claim home of Treaty of Waitangi

In a surprise announcement shortly before Waitangi Day, Maori academic David Rankin has indicated that his sub-tribe - Matarahurahu - is finalising a claim to have the Treaty grounds in Waitangi, including the historic Treaty House, returned to his people.

He is citing what are known as the 'Gipps Proclamations', in which the New South Wales Governor, George Gipps, guaranteed a few weeks before the Treaty was signed that Maori would keep possession of any land that had not been fairly sold to Europeans prior to 1840 and that had not been investigated by the Crown.

Mr. Rankin claims that the sale by his ancestors Hone Heke and Tuhirangi of thetwo hundred and fourty acres of land on which the Treaty grounds and House now sit, was never investigated, and that the Crown cannot therefore claim to have paid a fair price for it:

"They broke their own instructions", says Mr. Rankin. "The Crown was meant to investigate every purchase, but when it came to the land they acquired at Waitangi, they simply decided not to act. They have breached their own agreement and their own commitments to us, and therefore they must return the land - those are their rules, not ours, and we have plenty of evidence to support our case".

Mr. Rankin says his people do not have any plans as yet regarding what they will do with the site and buildings if returned: "we're not at that stage yet", he says, "our lawyers and researchers are focussing on getting the land and buildings returned to us. What we do with it afterwards will be our business".


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