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Waikato River Co-governance legislation welcomed

Te Arawa welcomes the final reading of Waikato River Co-governance legislation.

Embargoed: 3pmThursday October 21, 2010.

Te Arawa River Iwi Trust chairman Roger Pikia today joined other Waikato River iwi in support of the final reading of the Ngati Tuwharetoa, Raukawa, and Te Arawa River Iwi Waikato River Bill 2010.

The bill provides for co-governance involving river iwi and the Crown to restore the health and wellbeing of the river.

Mr Pikia said he was humbled to join kaumatua and others from river iwi to mark the final stages of law that returns iwi as legally recognised guardians of the river.

“To be in parliament to mark the final stages of a process begun many years ago by our ancestors is very humbling.

“Those who began this process have not survived to see the day when iwi have had our mana as kaitiaki acknowledged in law. They have not been able to see the fruits of their labours reach a positive end – a law that forms a pact between river iwi and the Crown to work together to restore the health and wellbeing of the river.”

Mr Pikia said the legislation marked real progress for New Zealand.

“This law provides real momentum for iwi to participate in a partnership focused on the restoration and protection of the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River for the benefit of all communities touched by its waters.

“For decades our people have sat as silent observers to the degradation of the awa, – we have seen the waters clouded by contaminants and by the sprawling towns and cities that now line its path. We have sat helpless to stem the decimation of the Mauri or the life force of the river - once plentiful in native fishing stocks, eel and whitebait - that helped sustain the once prosperous Maori communities who lined its more than 425km path.

“Today we seek to end this exclusion. Co-governance provides iwi with real influence in how the river is protected and maintained. It is a process of partnership.

Mr Pikia said the occasion made significant progress in bringing to an end the grievance suffered through the generations. This grievance was summarised by the words of a Te Arawa tupuna in a letter submitted to the Crown.

“Sir, great is our pain and grief afflicted us by reason of the Crown; the reason for our pain is that we do not call this land earth, but the flesh and bones of our dead. Gone are the burial site, gone are settlements, gone are the cultivations, sir, great is our pain and grief.” – Kamariera Heretaunga, and 54 others, Orakei Korako, 18 November 1895.


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