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Decision to transfer ownership of Okaro lake bed to Te Arawa

News Release
Friday 19 December 2014

Decision to transfer ownership of Okaro lake bed to Te Arawa

Exactly 10 years after ownership of 13 of the district’s lake beds was signed over to Te Arawa, the Rotorua Lakes Council has resolved to transfer ownership of the Okaro lake bed to Te Arawa Lakes Trust.

The decision was made at last night’s full council meeting (18 December).

The Crown and Te Arawa settled claims over the Te Arawa/Rotorua Lakes on 18 December 2004 with a deed of settlement transferring ownership of 13 lake beds to the Te Arawa Lakes Trust. Lake Okaro, at Waimangu, was excluded from the deed because it was vested in and administered by the council as a reserve at the time of settlement.

However, the Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations wrote to the council at the time, asking that negotiations be entered into with Te Arawa over future ownership of Lake Okaro. Council resolved in 2012 to support the transfer of the lake bed to Te Arawa.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said last night’s decision was momentous and the 10th anniversary of the Te Arawa settlement was an appropriate time to bring the unresolved matter to a close.

“This has been unfinished business for Te Arawa and the decision will also strengthen Council’s existing partnership with Te Arawa Lakes Trust in respect of lakes management,” she said.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust chair, Sir Toby Curtis, said the trust had worked hard with the council over a number of years to see the transfer happen.

“Tutapa mai nuku, tutapa mai whiti, kia rongo te po, kia rongo te ao! Te Arawa descendants who now live far and wide away from their home waters, including Lake Okaro, are heartened, as indeed are our kinsmen who now live beyond the veil. E te Manukura, e te Kaunihera, tena rawa atu koutou katoa”

The transfer will be on the same terms and conditions as those for the transfer of the other Te Arawa lake beds in 2004 with public access and use protected.

Rotorua Lakes Council will now work with Te Arawa Lakes Trust, the Office of Treaty Settlements and Department of Conservation to amend the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Act 2006 to give effect to the decision to transfer the lake bed.


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