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Cullen: Ngai Tuhoe Terms of Negotiation Signing

Hon Dr Michael Cullen

Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General, Minister of Finance, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Leader of the House

31 July 2008 Speech Notes
Embargoed until midday

Address at Ngai Tuhoe Terms of Negotiation Signing

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E ngā rangatira o Ngai Tūhoe, ngā kaitiaki,

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou kātoa.

I am delighted to be here today, with my colleagues the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Associate Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, to sign Terms of Negotiation with Ngai Tūhoe.

I would like to acknowledge all of you here, especially those who have travelled from your rohe in Te Urewera to be at this important occasion.

I particularly wish to recognise Tamati Kruger, Aubrey Temara and Kirsti Luke who have fronted this phase of the negotiations on your behalf.

I have no doubt that the clarity and drive with which they have negotiated these Terms has only been possible through the hard work and support of representatives from Te Kotahi ā Tūhoe, and the people of Ngai Tūhoe. It is because of this support that we are all gathered here today.

I want to pass a special welcome to those of you who are making your second trip to Parliament in recent times. It was just over one month ago that we gathered in this room to sign a deed of settlement with Tuhoe and the other members of the Central North Island Collective over the very significant forestry assets in your region.

That day in June is a day none of us will soon forget. For one day, the iwi of the central North Island made Parliament their place.

The corridors of the Beehive and the galleries of our debating chamber filled with a special energy as the iwi of the region came together to start on a major and collective economic journey.

All of us who work in these buildings – from Ministers and MPs, to journalists and staff – felt privileged to be able to celebrate that milestone with you.

And I think it is fair to say that the great majority of New Zealanders took pride in being able to celebrate the settlement as well. Over recent months, iwi from the Far North right through to the South Island have made a great deal of progress in Treaty Settlements. And as they have enjoyed that progress we have seen a calm, mature discussion of our nation’s history and the significant place of injustice in our national narrative. The news of success in Treaty Settlements has not been greeted with a backlash or by petty political opportunism.

The efforts to create renewed division between Maori and Pakeha that seemed a serious threat just four years ago have been held at bay.

But what can be lost as we celebrate collective progress for Maori are the individual histories that are so important. When the young men of Ngai Tuhoe made such a big impression on us all with their haka here in June, they were here not just as Central North Island Maori – they were here as Tuhoe.

And while we all celebrated the historic apology delivered to the Stolen Generations in Australia, for New Zealand collective apology is inadequate. A general acceptance that the Crown failed to deliver on its obligation to tangata whenua will not do.

Through our process of reconciliation and redress, we seek to acknowledge specific cases of injustice. We seek to develop a shared understanding of exactly where we failed, how our failures impacted on iwi and hapu, and how best we can move forward together.

And today as we gather here in Parliament, I must accept that over many generations the Crown failed Ngai Tuhoe in many ways.

Your history is one of great resilience, strength, and pride. But it is also a tragic history; a history of state violence, confiscation of land, and neglect of basic welfare.

As the result of Crown action your people have at times suffered poverty, famine, and significant isolation. This history was vividly explained at the Waitangi Tribunal Te Urewera hearings.

Those who attended the hearings heard a story of both harrowing loss and strength in the face of adversity. They heard how, as a result of the Crown’s actions, Ngai Tuhoe suffered the loss of much of their lands, and considerable loss of life.

They heard especially of the execution of unarmed prisoners by Crown forces during the New Zealand wars, and the Crown’s 1916 raid on Maungapouhatu and arrest of Rua Kenana, in which several Ngai Tuhoe lost their lives.

But the hearings also showed how your people have fought throughout to hold on to your land, your language and your culture. Ngai Tuhoe have risen to prominence in New Zealand public life, as academics, entertainers and sportspeople. Today, more of your people speak Te Reo Maori than any other iwi. Ngai Tuhoe have also played an important role as custodians of Te Urewera National Park, an area of great significance to New Zealand.

In summary, you are a people who have suffered significant injustice.

But you are also a people who have in the face of that injustice strengthened your culture and kept moving forward.

I would also like to briefly acknowledge that less than a year ago the events at Ruatoki provided a fresh point of tension in our relationship. It would not be appropriate or helpful for me to comment on the merits of the events of last October. I know emotions are still raw and opinions strongly held. But I am very pleased that less than a year later we are able to join together to show that it is the future that is first and foremost on the minds of Ngai Tuhoe.

It is the images of today’s event and the strong showing made by Tuhoe at the signing of the Central North Island Deed of Settlement – especially the impression made by your young people – that truly reflect your aspirations and values.

This signing of the Terms of Negotiation is a significant milestone for both Ngai Tūhoe and the Crown. It is the culmination of a number of years of hard work by many of your people, including the numerous hours of preparation for, and attendance at, the Waitangi Tribunal hearings into Te Urewera district.

Your willingness to progress the resolution of your claims against the Crown is a significant step in the future relationship between the Crown and Ngai Tūhoe. As such, today signals a genuine desire of Ngai Tūhoe and the Crown to sit down together and find an appropriate way forward for recognising and addressing those claims.

In signing these Terms, the Crown recognises that it has failed to fulfil its Treaty obligations to Ngai Tūhoe.

The Central North Island forest settlement addresses your claims relating to Kaingaroa. This negotiation is about addressing comprehensively, your raupatu claims within Te Urewera. The Crown has already conceded that it breached the Treaty when it confiscated large tracts of Ngai Tūhoe lands, as well as the associated warfare and loss of life that you have suffered. Detailed discussions can now begin on the appropriate redress for these breaches.

We now move to the formal negotiations stage, and the hard work begins – negotiating a settlement package that meets the interests of both Ngai Tūhoe and the Crown.

It is fair to say that this will be our most challenging period of work. You have been clear on what issues you want addressed at the negotiations table, and what redress you seek.

The Crown has been clear that the issues are both complex and sensitive for us.

However, as reflected in the Terms, the Crown recognises that these are real issues that are at the heart of your grievances and we come to the table open to exploring with you the appropriate means of addressing these grievances, taking into consideration our respective interests.

Given the seriousness of these issues, discussions will take time. But both parties are committed to achieving an Agreement in Principle within a year of this signing, which is an ambitious, but achievable task ahead of us.

I thank you all for being here in such large numbers today. I am honoured to be here today on behalf of the Crown to sign these Terms of Negotiation with Ngai Tuhoe.

No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou kātoa.


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