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Ngâti Tama Claims Settlement Bill: Second Reading

Hon Margaret Wilson
Ngâti Tama Claims Settlement Bill
Second Reading Speech


Mr Speaker, I move that the Ngâti Tama Claims Settlement Bill be now read a second time.

Background to Ngâti Tama

Ngâti Tama is an iwi of Taranaki and its historical Treaty claims cover some of the northern most part of that region. The claims relate mostly to the Crown’s waging of war in Taranaki in the 1860s, and the associated loss of life and property, and the confiscation of land. The claims also relate to the Crown’s unconscionable actions in its dealings with the Parihaka community, and the inadequacy of the West Coast Reserves.

Mr Speaker, I signed a Deed of Settlement with Ngâti Tama representatives on behalf of the Crown on 20 December 2001 which addressed the longstanding and significant grievances suffered by the iwi. The Ngâti Tama Claims Settlement Bill gives effect to certain aspects of the Deed of Settlement.

Apology provided to Ngâti Tama

The virtual landlessness of Ngâti Tama in Taranaki has hindered their development throughout the past 150 years. This settlement enables the Crown to apologise for its unconscionable and unjust behaviour towards Ngâti Tama.

The Crown has acknowledged its actions had a prejudicial impact on the people of Ngâti Tama. In particular, the Crown’s actions impeded the ability of Ngâti Tama to:
- exercise control over their taonga and wahi tapu; and
- maintain and foster spiritual connections to their ancestral lands.

The Crown apologises unreservedly for its actions that breached the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.

Summary of the settlement

As well as an apology, this settlement provides for:
- financial redress of $14.5 million, and
- a variety of cultural redress, which aims to recognise and protect the interests of Ngâti Tama in sites particularly significant to them.

This Bill makes it clear this is a comprehensive and final settlement of all the historical claims of Ngâti Tama in Taranaki.

Importance of this settlement

This settlement is an important milestone for Ngâti Tama and for the Crown. It will enable both parties to move forward and renew our relationship as Treaty partners. I know members of Ngâti Tama would like this settlement to be finalised as soon as possible to enable them to begin their development plans and look to their future.

This settlement is also significant because it is the second Treaty settlement to be finalised in the Taranaki region. In this regard, I am pleased to advise the Crown will also shortly take a significant step toward a third Taranaki settlement with the signing of a Deed of Settlement with Ngaa Rauru. I hope Ngati Tama’s settlement will encourage other claimant groups in Taranaki and elsewhere to enter into and complete negotiations with the Crown.

Maori Affairs Select Committee

The Maori Affairs Committee has considered this Bill and has submitted its commentary on it to the House. The Committee has recommended the Bill be passed with the proposed minor and technical amendments. I thank the Committee for its thorough consideration of the Bill and the observations made on three matters:

- the overlapping claim of Ngâti Maniapoto
- the mandate of the negotiators
- the participation rate of Ngâti Tama in the ratification of their governance entity to receive settlement assets.

The issue of overlapping interests between Ngâti Tama and Ngâti Maniapoto was considered by the Waitangi Tribunal. The Tribunal found the Crown’s approach to addressing Ngâti Maniapoto’s overlapping interests was sound and the settlement should proceed.

With regard to the mandate of the Ngâti Tama Iwi Development Trust, I acknowledge this mandate was a contentious one. It was challenged in 1996 and 1997 by the groups Ngä Hapü o Mokau, and Ngâti Tama Whänau Whänui. The Crown at the time continued to recognise the Trust’s mandate subject to conditions that it actively encourage participation by those Ngâti Tama who opposed the mandate. However, a significant number of Ngâti Tama were unwilling to be associated with the Trust throughout the negotiations process.

Mr Speaker, I note the Ngâti Tama Iwi Development Trust no longer exists. The Crown has approved Te Rünanga o Ngâti Tama as the governance entity to represent Ngâti Tama, and receive and manage the settlement redress.

My view is that Te Rünanga o Ngâti Tama is accountable to Ngâti Tama, has transparent processes and does represent all of Ngâti Tama.

The Committee stated its concern at the low participation rate of Ngâti Tama voters in ratifying the governance entity. Let me assure the House this government is committed to addressing this issue and to finding ways of increasing participation rates in the ratification of Treaty settlements and governance entities generally.

I am therefore pleased to note there have recently been positive moves by members of Whänau Whänui to be involved in Te Rünanga. I am glad the Committee was satisfied that efforts had been made to assist and encourage Whänau Whänui, and other Ngâti Tama people, to participate in the affairs of Te Rünanga.

I wish Te Rünanga well in its future and encourage it to continue to provide ways in which all Ngâti Tama whänau feel part of, and participate in, its affairs.

Mr Speaker, this Bill ensures all members of Ngâti Tama are entitled to benefit from the settlement, wherever they may now live.

Technical amendments

I note the Committee has recommended the Bill proceed with minor and technical amendments to the Bill. These generally reflect the recently approved survey plans for the cultural redress properties that are to be transferred, and the changes necessary to reflect the Resource Management Amendment Act 2003.

Conclusion

It was in November 1996 that the previous government recognised the mandate of the Ngâti Tama negotiators. A Heads of Agreement was reached in September 1999, and a Deed of Settlement was then finalised and signed in December 2001. The passage of this Bill is the last step required in order for the settlement to become unconditional. It is important we now move to enable Ngâti Tama to receive its just redress.

Mr Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the work done by the former Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations who contributed to this settlement.

I also want to thank the other Ministers involved and in particular, the Ministers of Conservation, who have supported the process throughout.

I wish to acknowledge the officials from the Office of Treaty Settlements and other government departments for their work in seeking a just and fair settlement.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge and thank the kaumatua, members and the negotiators of Ngâti Tama, whose commitment on behalf of their people, their ancestors and their descendants has led to this pathway to reconciliation.

ENDS

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