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Te Aitanga a Mahaki seek mandate for $120m negotiation

PRESS RELEASE
22 February 2014
Mahaki Trust

Te Aitanga a Mahaki seek mandate for $120m negotiation

The first steps in the completion of the $120 million Te Aitanga a Mahaki settlement have been taken.

In 2004 the Waitangi Tribunal described the claims in Gisborne or Turanga as being “significantly worse” than Taranaki and Waikato. The tribunal specifically found that:

1. A quarter of the adult population was illegally imprisoned on the Chatham Islands;
2. 43 percent of the adult male population of Turanga were killed in war by the Crown;
3. Over 100 Turanga prisoners were illegally executed by the Crown at Ngatapa, a 3rd to half of the number killed by the Crown in war with Turanga Iwi including Te Aitanga a Mahaki. Ngatapa is within the Tribal Area of Te Aitanga a Mahaki.

The Te Aitanga a Mahaki claims are the last claims within Turanga to be settled by the Crown. The Ngai Tamanuhiri (from the Young Nicks Head area) and Rongowhakaata (primary tribe of the Prophet Te Kooti Rikirangi) were settled in 2011.

The Te Aitanga a Mahaki Trust agreed by majority decision on Thursday night to seek the mandate to complete the claims and the introduction of settlement legislation this year.

John Ruru, who filed the original claim on behalf of Te Aitanga a Mahaki in March 1992, approached the Mahaki Trust after previous mandates had been abandoned.

“I want to complete these historical claims so that our tribe can move forward with our other Turanga relations who have settled,” said Mr Ruru.

Pehimana Brown, the trust chairman, said they would now go out to their 6,000 plus beneficiaries to seek confirmation of the mandate.

“Because of our unique dynamics within Mahaki, we are supporting two of our hapu in seeking direct negotiations with the Crown under this mandate,” said Mr Brown.

The two hapu are Te Whanau a Kai from the Patutahi area who also have interests in the Urewera, and Ngariki Kaiputahi in the Mangatu area.

Willie Te Aho, the lead negotiator for Te Aitanga a Mahaki, noted that direct negotiations with the Crown was the preferred option. He added that Mahaki had an alternative. In December 2013 the Waitangi Tribunal left the door open for Mahaki to seek the compulsory return of part of the Mangatu forest plus compensation up to $120m.

“On 26 January 2014 our people made it clear that they want a comprehensive settlement through direction negotiations. But if the Crown does not come to the party then we will be seeking a binding recommendation for the return of forest land, and compensation up to $120m,” said Mr Te Aho.

Mr Te Aho was the lead negotiator for Rongowhakaata who settled in 2011 and has completed 4 other settlements in the Waikato and Tauranga over the past two years.


NOTE FOR THE EDITOR: In the Waitangi Tribunal’s Mangatu Remedies Report (December 2013), it made the following statement: “While the confiscation aspect of the claim was not as large as those of Taranaki and Waikato, the treatment of the people in Turanga was in our view significantly worse. The illegal imprisonment of a quarter of the adult male population on Wharekauri is bad enough. But the loss in war of an estimated 43 per cent of the adult male population of Turanga, including the illegal execution of a third to a half of that number, is a stain on our national history and character. To this must be added the long term debilitating effect of the Poverty Bay Commission and Native Land Court. The fact that Turanga Maori made numerous unsupported attempts to avoid the constraints of unfair laws and extract fair value from their lands aggravates matters in our view.”

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