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McCaw Lewis: Crown expresses regret for shame and stigma

McCaw Lewis: Crown expresses regret for shame and stigma it caused family

The Crown has acknowledged that it should have consulted with the descendants of Te Whakatohea Chief Mokomoko with respect to the free pardon granted to Mokomoko in 1992. At Waiaua Marae, Opotiki today, the Crown will co-sign an agreement with Chief Mokomoko’s descendants which will introduce legislation restoring the character, mana and reputation of Mokomoko and his descendants; something the 1992 free pardon failed to do.

Wednesday 28 September 2011: The Minister of Maori Affairs on behalf of the Crown, will today in a special ceremony at Waiaua Marae in Opotiki, co-sign an Agreement to Introduce Legislation to Give Statutory Recognition to the Mokomoko Pardon.

In 1866 Chief Mokomoko and three co-accused were tried and executed for the murder of German missionary Reverend Carl Sylvius Volkner. Throughout the trial Mokomoko maintained his innocence. Mokomoko was hanged and buried at the old Auckland Jail and Courthouse. He was later reinterred at Mt Eden Prison and in October 1989 was reinterred at Waiaua Marae, 123 years after his execution.

As a result of the murder of Reverend Volkner, the Government sent military troops to Opotiki; the Mokomoko whanau were reduced to just 30 women and children and 173,000 acres of land was confiscated. For generations those with the name Mokomoko have carried the burden of being blamed for bringing raupatu (confiscation) to Te Whakatohea.

In 1988 Chief Mokomoko’s co-accused were granted a statutory pardon as part of the Ngatiti Awa settlement legislation. This pardon restored the character, mana and reputation of the accused their whanau and their iwi. In 1992 without consultation with his descendants, Mokomoko was granted a posthumous free pardon by the Governor General. The free pardon failed to restore the Chief’s character, mana and reputation.

Since 1992 the descendants have been trying to engage with the Crown to remedy this failing. The 2009 recommendations of the Te Urewera Waitangi Tribunal were that the form and wording of the 1992 free pardon did not redress the original Treaty grievance, and that the Crown should work in consultation with the family to address this matter.

The Crown and the descendants have been working together and have agreed to introduce legislation that will not only give statutory recognition to the Mokomoko Pardon but will also include an acknowledgement by the Crown that it should have consulted the family regarding the appropriate wording, and that it expresses regret for any ongoing shame and stigma that this has caused the descendants. Importantly the proposed legislation will restore the character, mana and reputation of Chief Mokomoko and that of his descendants. This unique Agreement is outside of the Treaty settlement process and in no way seeks to settle the family’s Treaty claims.

Family spokesperson Karen Mokomoko describes the co-signing of the Agreement and the proposed legislation as a “significant step in the healing process for the whanau. She laments the fact that “sadly many that began this journey of clearing the name of our takpuna are no longer with us and their presence today will be missed. However we believe that in taking this step our Rangatira and those that have passed since, will finally be able rest in peace.


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