Central North island Iwi Collective
21 February 2008
Central North island Iwi Collective
Iwi Collective Initiative to Settle Historical
Crown Forest Land in Central North Island
Iwi in the central North Island took a major step forward in settling historical iwi claims to the majority of the CNI forest lands when we signed a Terms of Agreement with the Crown in Wellington today.
The Terms record an initiative between the Crown and CNI iwi to negotiate the return of CNI forest lands of the CNI iwi that have direct customary interests in those lands. The allocation of those lands by the Crown will settle all the historical claims to the forest lands by the iwi which are parties to the agreement.
The participating iwi are: Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Whakaue, Ngati Rangitihi and Ngati Whare. We are known as the Central North Island Iwi Collective and together our membership numbers over 100,000. The Terms of Agreement signed today makes provision for engagement with all other iwi who have customary interests in the forest lands including Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa to participate in our project. The other iwi groups are: Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Manawa and Ngati Makino.
Our initiative follows the inquiry by the Waitangi Tribunal last year into the Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa settlement agreement and legal action by the Federation of Maori Authorities and the NZ Maori Council against aspects of that settlement.
The initiative was undertaken primarily between Tuwharetoa Paramount Chief, Tumu Te Heuheu and the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Cullen, and was supported by the majority of CNI iwi representatives. Representatives of CNI iwi then formed a Collective to reach agreement with the Crown on the Terms of Reference for settlement negotiations.
Since late last year we have been talking amongst ourselves and with the Crown about how we might make progress in settling the claims to the forest lands. What we have decided to do is to put together a proposal that will allocate the forest lands to the iwi with interests in that land. Third party arbitrators will be used to settle any disputes about allocation.
After discussion with the Crown on the value of the land and what the Crown believes is the value of the claims each iwi has to those lands the agreed figures will make up the commercial component of the historical settlement for each participating iwi. They will receive both Crown forest land and the associated accumulated rentals that are being held by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust.
The other components of the settlement – the Crown Apology, Acknowledgements of the breaches of the Treaty and the Cultural Redress package - will be negotiated with the Crown by each individual iwi at a later date.
Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa is aware of our proposal and we are committed to preserve the existing value of their proposed settlement. Te Pumautanga representatives attended our hui last Friday as observers and we will further engage on matters affecting our respective claims.
We are also aware that the process on our side needs to be an inclusive one and that is why we have made provision for others to join our collective group when they wish to do so.
We are also happy to report that the Crown through the Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations has been very committed and supportive of the initiative.
Central North island iwi with interests in the forest lands are enthusiastic about uniting in a common cause that has long term benefit us all. We are now paddling our own waka and, for the first time on this issue, are not passengers in someone else’s waka.