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Speech: Katene - Ngāti Apa Settlement Bill

Ngāti Apa (North Island) Claims Settlement Bill
Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Tuesday 17 November 2009; 4pm

I am honoured, as with others, to greet the Ngāti Apa representatives who have joined us today for this historic occasion. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Mr Speaker, the grievances of Ngāti Apa (North Island) are significant and long-standing.

As with all settlements, our tears flow with each injustice occurred; we connect to your pain and we admire the courage of these people and your commitment in walking forward.

This is a day to give effect to the Deed of Settlement, and to set in process a final settlement of Ngati Apa’s historical claims.

But it is never as easy as all that.

Some of us in this House may remember a sixties classic, to every season, there is a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap – time for every purpose.

In many respects this Bill – as with other settlement Bills – gives life to these lyrics.

We learn of the birth of this claim – learning that Ngati Apa have been raising grievances with the Crown for over a hundred years.

I want to acknowledge, too, the people of Ngāti Apa; people who suffered the breaches of the Treaty and who carried the grievances. I particularly want to acknowledge those who are no longer with us; those who died with the hope of settlement still in their hearts.

Over the century, the Crown has failed to deal with longstanding grievances of Ngati Apa in an appropriate way.

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From 1848 the Crown purchased over 400,000 acres of land in which Ngati Apa held interests.

The 1848 Rangitikei-Turakina purchase stated that this block would be for all of Ngati Apa to collect and settle on.

Yet, native land legislation enabled these lands to pass through the Native Land Court , which awarded land interests to individuals rather than to all of the iwi.

This essentially excluded many Ngati Apa from ownership of iwi lands – a clear breach of the Treaty and its principles.

The cumulative effects of the Crown’s actions have left Ngati Apa without land –a landless people - leading to the situation in which today, most of Ngati Apa live outside their rohe.

Ngati Apa have also lost control over many of their significant sites, including wähi tapu, affecting their physical and spiritual relationship with the land.

A time to be born; a time to die.

The Bill is a clear recognition that grievances are long overdue for settlement

As I listened to my colleague the honourable Tariana Turia, and the speaker that followed her, the honourable Mita Ririnui, it was brought home to me again, the gnawing pain that can destroy the spirit, and turn a people to despair.

But with the strength of their tupuna behind them, the people have risen up, and have stood to share their history with the nation, while at the same time determining a pathway forward.

That pathway lies in the cultural redress and revitalisation.

A time to plant, a time to reap.

And so in this Bill we have specific and strategic initiatives for the collective of individuals who descend from one or more Ngati Apa ancestors.

A distinctive part of the settlement is cultural reconnection in respect of the transfer of twelve sites of significance.

Of these sites, nine are public conservation land with public access and third party rights protected for all but two sites.

In addition there is a full range of other cultural redress instruments over Crown-owned land and relationship agreements with certain agencies.

It appears that Te Runanga o Ngati Apa – and those involved in the negotiations - have valued the experience and opportunity of having to be innovative and creative in relation to formulating the redress packages.

As part of this the Bill provides for the issue of protocols by the Ministers of Conservation, Fisheries and, Arts Culture and Heritage and how they interact with Ngati Apa on specified matters.

This is a very significant development, that specified departments and Ministers are invited to work closely with Ngati Apa; to consider how their priorities align with issues emerging across the tribal boundaries.

Ngāti Apa’s area of interest extends from the north of Foxton up to south of Whanganui, and runs east from the coast along the Oroua River, past Hunterville.

It is a big area of land, and so the relationship with government agencies, alongside the return of one hundred acres of Papakainga sites are vital steps to further enhance Ngati Apa ahikäroa and cultural development of the iwi.

The protocols with relevant government bodies will assist Ngati Apa in being able to co-operate on freshwater fisheries; on the export and identification of taonga tuturu, on sustainability of taonga fisher species and marine aquatic life, on cultural materials, on the protection and restoration of wetlands, on cultural and intellectual property.

This is a very specific and tailored approach which demonstrates the willingness of Ngati Apa to work with the Crown and their respective agencies for the long term aspirations of the people.

But the relationships extend beyond the Crown to also encompass relationships with other iwi.

There is a clear commitment to work towards ensuring overlapping interests from other tribal groups within the rohe are addressed. This is an important development which we in the Maori Party are fully supportive of.

Indeed, it is in the strength of our relationships that we can be assured of our ongoing strength as people.

We have stood in the House in many settlements prior to this and have voiced our deep concern at the way in which the Treaty process has been used in many rohe, to divide and rule.

We have raised our belief that the framework within which Treaty settlements take place is seriously flawed. In effect, the process cannot be supported, while recognising the significance of recognising iwi rights and their needs to settle.

And we are well aware, an apology assumes a promise not to breach again, yet the Crown continues to do so by pitting iwi against iwi; hapu against hapu.

Ngati Apa has fought the practice of divide and rule, holding fast to their assurances that they would only claim areas of interest as theirs, exclusively, as long as the available research was substantial and unopposed.

This is an honourable position – a stance which may well be influential in other settlements to follow.

Another exciting innovation in this settlement is the cultural revitalisation package. The opportunity to re-establish papakainga is of significant importance to Ngati Apa and it will be proudly supported by the development and implementation of their cultural redevelopment plan.

Finally I want to acknowledge the history that my colleague Tariana Turia talked of – dating back to the Turakina-Rangitikei transaction of 1849.

Despite a history of some 160 years – or perhaps because of it – the timeframe from whoa to go has been solidly impressive.

And I mihi to the young leaders of Ngati Apa, who have given us all hope that our collective future lies in good hands.

The Bill seeks to recognise what is important to the people of Ngāti Apa, and to provide redress for historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi.

We in the Maori Party congratulate Ngati Apa for their distinctive and practical resolution of the historical claims, and we wish Ngati Apa well for the promise of a much stronger future.

Kia ora koutou.

ENDS

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