Department of Statistics Acknowledges Ngāti Hikairo as Iwi
Ngāti Hikairo is acknowledged as an Iwi by Department of Statistics
The Department of Statistics has included Ngati Hikairo as an iwi in its recently published list of groups with acknowledged iwi status. Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo is delighted that after 22 years of advocacy and battling with the Crown, Crown agencies and Iwi authorities within the Tainui waka confederation, the iwi status of Ngāti Hikairo has at last been acknowledged in the public domain.
“For over 22 years we have worked to honour the wishes of our tūpuna for greater representation as Tangata Whenua to address our responsibilities for the moana, the whenua and people living in Kāwhia, Ōpārau, Te Tahi and Whatiwhatihoe in Te Rohe Pōtae,” said Moka Apiti, Chairperson of Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo today. In addition, Ngāti Hikairo has responsibility for safeguarding the connections that members of the Tainui waka make to Kāwhia and its history. “It’s a proud moment to have this acknowledged in Crown circles today,” he said.
Ngāti Hikairo is one of the five iwi of the Rohe Pōtae and has its claims before the Waitangi Tribunal for Treaty breaches that are quite separate from the raupatu claims of Waikato Tainui with which it is often associated.
“It has suited the Crown to split us up into Waikato Tainui for the purposes of Raupatu and to regard us as Ngāti Maniapoto for other purposes,” said Meto Hopa, Ngāti Hikairo Kaumātua. He added, “This has never been acceptable to us and it is a great day that we can finally come into the light and proudly be who we always have been”,
The acknowledgement of Iwi status for Ngāti Hikairo by the Department of Statistics will make it easier to communicate our position to Crown agencies in both central and local government and to look for support for conducting the governance business of communities that has, sadly, been under-resourced to this point.
Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo is an iwi authority that safeguards and promotes the mana whenua and mana moana interests of Ngāti Hikairo and now has the opportunity to take action on its wide responsibilities across the Hikairo rohe. “We have always done this as Tangata Whenua of Kāwhia,” said Jack Te Papi Cunningham, Ngāti Hikairo Kaumātua and inaugural Chairperson of Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo. “However it has largely been done on the commitment of tribal volunteers and people of good will in central and local government.”
Over the years, the Rūnanganui has not always found it easy to make progress within Tainui political circles either. “Quite frankly our neighbours at times haven’t been helpful when it came to relationships with government and on resourcing issues” said Tony Spelman, Secretary Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo. “For instance we were locked out of the fisheries allocation discussions in the 1990s when quotas were negotiated following the fisheries settlement.” He added, “We are also aware that the current Minister for Treaty Negotiations has received advice that the settlement of the Kāwhia harbour claims should go the sameway.” Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo is confident that this will now not happen and that the importance of the Crown showing respect and negotiating with Ngāti Hikairo as a large natural grouping has become clear, making it easier for them to know the right thing to do to settle the Treaty claims of Ngāti Hikairo.
Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo congratulates the Department of Statistics on the work it has done to revise its view of Māori society through its current understanding of Iwi classification.