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Speech: Turia - Ngati Apa Claims Settlement

Ngati Apa (North Island) Claims Settlement Bill: First Reading
Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party
Tuesday 17 November 2009; 3.20pm

I move, on behalf of the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, that the Ngati Apa (North Island) Claims Settlement Bill be now read a first time.

Mr Speaker, at the appropriate time I intend to move:

• that the Bill be considered by the Maori Affairs Committee;

• that the Committee report finally to the House on or before 17 March 2010 and

• that the Committee have the authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting, except during oral questions, and during the evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, and on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House despite Standing Orders 187, 189, and 190 (1) (b) and (c).

Tatou o nga Wairiki o Mangawhero o Whangaehu o Turakina.

Tatou o Ngati Apa tena koutou i roto i tenei rangi whakahirahira mo nga hapu. Kua roa nei te wa, kia tae tatou ki tenei rangi.

Te tokomaha o nga tupuna i matemate ai, i te pakanga mo nga whenua me nga taonga katoa.

Kaore i kore kei te matakitaki ratou i nga whakaritenga i tu nei ki mua i te aroaro o te hunga.

No reira ratou ki a ratou, tatou ki a tatou, tena tatou katoa.

Mr Speaker, one hundred and ten years ago, in November 1899, over two hundred members of Nga Wairiki/Ngati Apa met with Premier Richard Seddon at Tini Waitara marae.

At that time, at that meeting the people shared their concerns – fearing our fishing rights would cease if our fisheries were drained by the settlers.

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They asked for the remaining lakes and swamps to be reserved, noting the impacts of the Europeans who were felling their forests.

They described their lands as fertile, as valuable, and as yielding considerable taxes and profits to the government.

They spoke directly to the Premier, impressing upon him the urgency of passing law to restrict any more lands from being sold, from being mortgaged, partitioned, fragmented or seized for debt.

But the korero drifted into the wind, ignored, left to linger.

This Bill takes us back in time to the Crown’s purchase in 1849 of the 260,000 acres of the Rangitikei-Turakina Block. It refers also to the subsequent failure to adequately protect approximately 35,000 acres of reserves set aside from this transaction.

This Bill is a direct response to the operation and impact of the native land laws. These laws contributed to the erosion of traditional tribal structures and resulted in the gradual alienation of nearly all our remaining lands.

Nga Wairiki/Ngati Apa became virtually landless, owning less than one percent of our traditional rohe; our lands alienated, our people disenfranchised.

Today then, is a chance to right the wrong, to find our way forward.

Despite the fragility of relationships between tangata whenua and the Crown; tangata whenua and others; what settlements do is to refocus the tribe on their future.

Knowing our history is crucial to our future. We must face our past front on, not putting it aside nor denying it, but seeing it as a pathway into the future.

We should never be afraid to speak of our past – for our foundations as whanau, as hapu, as iwi are the very essence of who we are.

Our stories provide a context for the lives our people live today; it helps us to understand the full value of the battles our tupuna fought to help shape our journey onwards.

The long road to justice was walked by my uncles Tokouru and Matiu Ratana before me, and my aunt Iriaka Ratana; all of whom have served as Members of Parliament.

Like me, they came here because they sought a greater future for the generations to come.

Mr Speaker, as a child, I heard the stories of my Dad about the occupation of our lands; I knew the pain associated with the loss of names of our hapu, the sadness as our marae fell into disrepair and we lacked the resources to restore them. Such was our loss that almost all of our generation today no longer speak the reo.

In the seventies, the people rose up, making a personal commitment to restore our marae to be places to gather again, as Nga Wairiki/Ngati Apa.

But the impacts of the loss our people suffered was really deeply felt.

The journey in making progress towards settling our claims has been arduous, but from the sorrow has emerged the strength of will, the firm resolve that we can fulfil the aspirations of all those who have passed before us.

I think then of all those who have gone before us and I know that my Dad, my tupuna, my aunties are watching over us, with a strong sense of pride that it has been our young people that have advanced a settlement with dignity, with integrity and with purpose.

And to all those who brought us here today, I thank you.

And I want to mihi to the leadership of our more recent generations, including the members of the negotiating team. Their dedication and determination on behalf of Nga Wairiki/Ngati Apa has been vital in the path towards achieving settlement.

This has been a unique aspect of this settlement - the leadership of our young people and I acknowledge them today for investing in a better future for their generation and those to come.

The settlement represents their commitment to a constructive relationship with the Crown, to restore some of the balance of what was lost. It comprises an agreed historical account, Crown acknowledgements and an apology.

It includes commercial and financial redress totalling sixteen million dollars and a right to purchase approximately 6500 hectares of Crown forest licensed land and other Crown owned properties and assets.

One of the most exciting aspects is the cultural redress package designed around the aspirations of Nga Wairiki/ Ngati Apa.

The settlement focuses on cultural revitalisation and cultural reconnection, including the gifting of five papakainga properties and provision of resources to implement a strategy for the revitalisation of our tikanga.

Mr Spekaer, there is funding also to compile a comprehensive historical record, and cultural reconnection in respect of the transfer of twelve sites of significance.

This Bill represents the hope – the opportunity to build social and cultural capital, placing it in equal importance with economic growth and development.

It crystallises the ambition of Te Runanga o Ngati Apa to reach out to other Ministers and Departments; to extend right across the sectors for our long-term restoration.

A novel feature of the Agreement is the opportunity to develop protocols with the Ministers of Conservation; Arts, Culture and Heritage; Fisheries and Environment.

I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Ministers who have been involved in this settlement –the honourable Finlayson, and before him the honourable Parekura Horomia; the honourable Mita Ririnui; and the honourable Mark Burton.

Mr Speaker, this Bill is an important marker in the restoration of our whenua stretching from Motukaraka south to Omarupapako and inland to the upper Rangitikei.

It provides us with the means to re-establish papakainga throughout our rohe; to prepare a cultural redevelopment plan; to restore to ourselves our knowledge of our rivers, lakes, forests, wetlands, wahi tapu, our cultural and intellectual property.

And most of all, it provides us with a vehicle to grow our capital assets while at the same time re-establishing our iwi for the new millennium.

Mr Speaker, I therefore consider that the Bill should proceed without delay to the Maori Affairs committee. I commend this Bill to the House.


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