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Speech: Turia - Maraeroa A and B Block Claim

Cognate Bill: Maraeroa A and B Block Claim Settlement Bill and Maraeroa A and B Block Incorporation Bill
First Reading Speech; Hon Tariana Turia
Thursday 8 March 2012; 5.30pm

Mr Speaker, I move that the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Incorporation Bill and the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Claims Settlement Bill be now read a first time.

I intend to move, at the appropriate time, that the Bills be considered by the Māori Affairs Committee.

I would like to welcome the representatives of Maraeroa A and B Block who are here today for this very special occasion.

The endeavours of people such as Glen Katu, Edward Moana-Emery, Brian Stanley, and Piripi Crown, continue to bear fruit, and this private members bill today is a testimony to their dedication and their commitment to working together. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou.

Today is a significant moment for the descendants of the original owners of Maraeroa A and B Blocks, as we acknowledge their historical Treaty grievances and seek to move forward.

And while we look forward to realising the potential that exists in this settlement for the generations to come, we acknowledge and honour the legacy provided by the leadership of Charlie Wehi – the original claimant; and Murdoch Paki, a much respected member of Te Maru o Rereahu Trust.

It is almost a year to the day that I joined with Ngāti Maniapoto, Raukawa, Ngāti Rereahu and Ngāti Tūwharetoa at Pa Harakeke, to sign the Deed on behalf of the Crown.

It is a great privilege to be able to now act on the intent of that Deed, and to be able to sponsor one of the two bills, being introduced today under the cognate procedure: namely the Maraeroa A and B Blocks Incorporation Bill.

The two Bills being introduced today are the final steps towards the completion of a journey that has taken many years. The bills are significant in that they seek to re-establish broken relationships in the promise of a better future for all.

Background of Maraeroa A and B Blocks

The Maraeroa A and B Blocks lie on the volcanic plateau east of Te Kūiti. The interests of several iwi and hapū groups intersect here, being predominantly Ngāti Rereahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Raukawa.

In September 2008 Terms of Negotiation were signed with the Te Maru o Rereahu Trust and the Crown commenced exploratory work with Ngāti Rereahu interests in the Maraeroa Blocks.

In July 2009, the Crown agreed to negotiate a block settlement with the Te Maru o Rereahu Trust in relation to the Maraeroa A and B Blocks with the beneficiaries being all descendants of the original owners of those Blocks, regardless of iwi or hapū affiliation.

The Trust sought a fresh mandate in August 2010 to negotiate on behalf of the descendants of the Maraeroa Blocks. This mandate was recognised on 18 November 2010 and a deed was initialled on 16 December 2010.

Five ratification information hui were held in January 2011. The hui were held at Māngere; Te Kuiti; Waihi Marae, Pa Harakeke and Kokiri Marae in Wellington. I am told that the hui were well attended and supported by owners residing in those places.
And I think this is also worthy of acknowledgment – the commitment, the resourcing, and the manaakitanga of our marae and entities who give so generously to enabling the settlements process to flow.

The block settlement recognised the Claims Settlement Bill is outside the settlement framework and does not comprehensively settle all the claims of the claimant groups. All claims, however, relating to the Maraeroa A and B Blocks will be extinguished by the settlement.

I acknowledge that this feature in itself, that the settlement relates exclusively to the Maraeroa A and B Blocks, adds another layer to the legislation; in that we must also be aware that there are other negotiations occurring between the parties, in respect of areas outside of this settlement.

The land upon which the people of Maraeroa A and B Blocks settled and exercised kaitiakitangi was rich in resources. It was an area regarded as a kono kai that provided a wide range of foods and resources for all of the iwi of the surrounding district.

The Crown acknowledges that in 1862 native land legislation was imposed on Māori land owners without consulting them and that the native land laws facilitated Crown and private purchasing of Māori land.

I am reminded of the wisdom of one of my tupuna, Tinirau, who left us the vision of the words, toi tū te kupu, toi tū te mana, toi tū te whenua.

In that message, he urged us to hold fast to our language, and to our land, as the essence of who we are as mana whenua – the people of the land. It is an intimate and all enduring relationship – the tangata – the people – always connected to the whenua – the land.
A relationship which forms the very foundation of our being. And yet a relationship that has been sorely tested in actions of the Crown over the last 170 years and more.

In this legislation, we saw this manifest from 1884 to 1908; a period of time in which the Crown had a monopoly over purchasing from the Maraeroa A and B Blocks. Between 1895 and 1908 the Crown purchased the individual interests of most of the owners of the Maraeroa A and B Blocks, totalling a massive ninety percent of the two Blocks.

The Maraeroa A and B Blocks contained significant areas of indigenous forest. The prices paid by the Crown for the Maraeroa A and B Blocks did not appear to include the value of the indigenous timber on the land and the milling of indigenous forest removed the habitat of indigenous species.

The alienation of the Maraeroa A and B Blocks separated the descendants of the original owners of the Maraeroa A and B Blocks from their wāhi tapu, undermined their cultural connection to the land and deprived them of the ability to access nga wāhi kohinga kai, cultural resources and materials for construction.

The loss of these lands undermined the social and traditional tribal structures of the people of the Maraeroa A and B Blocks, their autonomy and ability to exercise customary rights and responsibilities.

Today this legislation is an attempt to rectify and remedy the wrong.

Maraeroa A and B Blocks Incorporation Bill

The Maraeroa A and B Blocks Incorporation Bill is a private bill in my name required to establish the Māori Incorporation, which is to form part of the Post Governance Settlement Entity. This Bill has also resulted from the deed, which was negotiated and agreed between the Crown and the descendants of the Maraeroa A and B Blocks.

I am proud to sponsor this Bill on behalf of the descendants of the Maraeroa Blocks.

I want to also thank my Parliamentary colleagues for supporting the procedural changes necessary to allow both government and private bills to be considered together – as cognate bills – through the legislative process. Both bills need to come into force at the same time so the transfer of the settlement assets to the incorporation can take place.

I hope that this settlement will atone for these wrongs and continue the process of healing. It will mark the beginning of a new relationship with the descendants of the original owners of the Maraeroa A and B Blocks that is based on mutual trust and co-operation.

Mr Speaker, I consider that the Bills should therefore proceed without delay to Māori Affairs Committee. I commend these Bills to the House.

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