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Whakarewarewa and Roto-a-Tamaheke Vesting Bill

Whakarewarewa and Roto-a-Tamaheke Vesting Bill
Hon Dr Pita Sharples

Tena koe Mr Speaker. Tena tatou katoa e te whare. Tena koutou e nga uri o Te Arawa waka kua haere mai nei ki te tautoko ana i te whaturetanga o te Pire nei. Na reira, naumai haere mai nei.

I move that the Whakarewarewa and Roto-a-Tamaheke Vesting Bill be now read a third time.

This Bill gives effect to the deed entered into by Ngati Whakaue, Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao and Te Pumautanga trustees, and the Crown to transfer the Southern Arikikapakapa Reserve, the Whakarewarewa Thermal Springs Reserve and the Roto-a-Tamaheke Reserve to Ngati Whakaue and Tuhourangi and the koromatua o Ngati Wahiao.

We often say, Ko Papatuanuku te matua o te tangata – literally the land is the parent of the human race. Our love for our whenua is likened to the love we have for our mothers – at birth our whenua is returned to her; at death we are reunited with her soil.

It is only fitting to reflect on two who have so recently returned to the soils of their whenua – and I refer to Arapeta Tahana, the former Chair of the Te Arawa Trust Board, and Sir Howard Morrison of Ngati Whakaue.

The legacy of these two leaders will continue to be felt in this Bill and it is only right that we honour their vision and their unique contribution as we mark this historic third reading today.

Haere ra korua, otira nga mate katoa o Te Arawa waka, o te motu whanui. Moe mai ra koutou i nga manaakitanga o te wahi ngaro.

Mr Speaker, I want to say from the outset, that at the heart of this Bill is the special connection to the land - mana whenua.

As we know, mana over whenua can come to you through succession, perhaps through the spilling of blood, maybe even the spirit of generosity to cement relationships or as a sincere act of compassion or aroha. And then there’s the Courts – but we don’t want to go there.
The Whakarewarewa and Roto-a-Tamaheke Vesting Bill reflects a unique milestone, that all parties have agreed to initiate a process, after the Bill becomes law, which will allow iwi to determine the allocation of mana whenua interests in the land.

The Bill itself does not specify how this process should occur. This is a matter for iwi and hapū parties to determine and the process will be undertaken in accordance with tikanga.

A key principle we have respected, is that mandating and management issues are always the domain of iwi and hapu to sort out in accordance with their tikanga.

I want to place on record, from the outset, my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has travelled here today to witness this distinctive agreement to transfer these special lands to the iwi of Tuhourangi, Ngati Wahiao and Ngati Whakaue.

Reaching the third reading of this Bill has required considerable dedication to the task from all of the parties involved.

I want to acknowledge the commitment of Ngati Whakaue.

The Bill has benefited from the leadership of Pihopa Kingi and the trustees of Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust – Malcolm Short, Alex Wilson and also Rawiri Rangitauira. I acknowledge, too, your dedication in wanting to exercise your tribal responsibilities, to uphold the expression of manaakitanga to others across the rohe.

To the representatives of Te Kotahitanga o Ngati Whakaue – Kiri Mitchell, George and Eddie Mutu, Anaru te Amo and Hamuera Mitchell – thank you for your patience while you have endured the process to pass the Bill into law.

To the representatives of Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao – Anaru Rangiheuea, Rangipuawhe Maika and John Maaka – thank you for your role in allowing what was once perceived as an impasse in the Treaty settlement process to become a building bridge to unity between the iwi and the hapu.

I mihi too, to Te Maru o Ngati Wahiao who have advocated so passionately over the ever-enduring concerns of participation, of representation, and of involvement.
If the House will permit, I want to spend some time on an issue raised frequently at the select committee and in numerous representations to me.

I have to say we understand how the issues of land cut to the very heart of the people. This is recognised in the Bill which allows for a mana whenua determination process to take place after enactment.

This will allow the iwi opportunity to sit together and determine who will have the final ownership of which pieces of land. As with the CNI forest lands, this will be done through agreement, mediation, or arbitration is required.

I am optimistic that in the case of Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao that the process of the four koromatua whakapapa lines will be a foundation of the mana whenua discussion where they will determine their pathway forward, at their own pace, and under their own process. Furthermore I am pleased that facilitated discussions provided a guide for that to happen.

Implementation of this Bill must be in the domain of iwi – it is not for elected representatives of Government to determine how that process plays out – that is the realm of tino rangatiratanga.

Some have said let the Courts decide. I have preferred to leave that to the people – it was the processes and decisions of the Courts that resulted in iwi losing their lands in the first place.

There is a previous history of problems with judicial involvement and determinations over the land that failed to resolve contested rights and led to the alienation of lands to the Crown.

To Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa – Eru George, Rawiri Te Whare and the iwi leadership within your realms – I acknowledge your efforts in seeing this Bill come through to fruition – and we recognise your commitment to work through a process which will respect the roles and responsibilities of mana whenua.

I have received written communication from the Chairman that all of the respective claimant groups will be actively involved in the process of moving forward.

And I understand there is a hui

This will make a total of four trustees …..

And I understand that anyone from Tuhourangi and Ngati Wahiao can participate….

I want to thank everyone who got us to this point, recognising that although there were difficulties to resolve the final formula, nevertheless the process of descent through Koromatua could be a positive mechanism to move forward.

And I remain confident that all iwi and mana whenua interests in the Reserves will be able to participate in the arrangements for their management and allocation in the future.

To all the people of Te Arawa gathered here today, ka nui taku harikoa ku eke tatau ki tenei ra e whakahoki nei i te mana o enei whenua ki nga uri o nga kaumatua hei whenua tuturu mo koutou mo ake tonu atu.

This Bill is straightforward in its intent. The Bill deals with the technical processes required to transfer ownership of the three reserves in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley to the iwi of the area.

However, behind the Bill, as I have alluded to, lies a plethora of complex issues related to the Treaty settlement process, iwi relationships on the ground, and the Crown-Maori relationships. We acknowledge the Bill represents a compromise by all involved, in respect of the greater interests of the iwi.

I was always aware that issues of fairness and justice would prevail, in considering the issues of ownership.

To address concerns I instigated a facilitation process to assure parties that the process was fair and inclusive of all, and I acknowledge the assistance of my colleague Te Ururoa Flavell, and the guidance of John Clark, in these discussions.

There is one other matter outstanding – and that is the aspiration of Ngati Whakaue and Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao to own the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute – Te Puia – which is commonly referred to as the jewel in the Crown of New Zealand tourism. Now that we have transferred the land on which this Institute sits to iwi, it may be time to continue discussions on this.

Finally, to the people of Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao and Ngati Whakaue, I join with you in marking this historic occasion in the return of your treasured lands.

ENDS

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