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Historic Moment For Te Whakatōhea As They Witness Final Reading In Parliament

Te Whakatōhea Iwi descended on Wellington in the hundreds to witness the final reading of the Whakatōhea Settlement Claims Bill.


Arihia Tuoro, Chair of Te Tāwharau o Te Whakatōhea, emphasised the significance of this event and its implications for future generations.

“Today marks a historic moment for our people. We acknowledge the courage and commitment of our tīpuna and whānau that have made this day possible. It is because of their perseverance we reach this historic day, and where we can now focus on the future that we can chart for our mokopuna, and together we will thrive”.

The Whakatōhea Claims Settlement Bill aims to redress the breaches of the Crown against Te Whakatōhea, including significant land confiscations and military actions against its people. The settlement package includes financial compensation, water space, cultural redress, and the return of sites of significance.

The Bill also involves the dissolution of the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board, initially established in 1952 under the Māori Trust Board Act of 1955. The Trust Boards assets will be consolidated into those of Te Tāwharau o Te Whakatōhea. Over the span of almost seven decades, the Trust Board has seen remarkable growth, transforming its initial £20,000.00 investment into a thriving enterprise with a total equity of $60m. Its diverse portfolio includes ventures in dairy, horticulture, and the innovative aquaculture sector.

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Robert Edwards Chair of the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board reflected on the journey and the future, as the Trust Board transitions under the stewardship of Te Tāwharau o Te Whakatōhea.

“The journey of the Whakatohea Māori Trust Board has been remarkable, evolving from humble beginnings to a substantial enterprise. This transition marks a new era for Te Whakatōhea. The stewardship of Te Tāwharau o Te Whakatōhea will build on the legacy of the Trust Board, ensuring our investments continue to thrive. Our aquaculture investments have long been a cornerstone of our economic wellbeing. With the settlement as a catalyst, we hope these foundations will continue to grow and support the prosperity of Te Whakatōhea whānau whānui”.

Following the third reading, the Whakatōhea Claims Settlement Bill will receive Royal Assent, officially enacting it into law. This will initiate the implementation phase, ensuring that Whakatōhea can begin to realise the benefits and opportunities promised by the settlement.

About Te Tāwharau o Te Whakatōhea

Te Tāwharau o Te Whakatōhea is the post settlement governance entity that will receive the settlement assets on behalf of ngā uri o Te Whakatōhea.


Te Whakatōhea are based in the Eastern Bay of Plenty centred around the town of Ōpōtiki. Their collective prosperity is recorded in their historical account agreed with the Crown:

“Whakatōhea soon realised the advantage of controlling the transport in the Auckland trade. Beginning in the early 1840s, they acquired their own fleet of … schooners and cutters. At least 22 ships were registered to Whakatōhea owners, comprising a significant proportion of the New Zealand registered vessels over that period.”

The Waitangi Tribunal found that the grievances of Te Whakatōhea are “among the worst Treaty breaches in this country’s history”. The historical account further states:

“The confiscation caused utter devastation for Whakatōhea, who lost everything between Ōhiwa Harbour and the Waiaua River including ‘all the flat and useful land’, the rich alluvial soils surrounding Ōpōtiki and Pākōwhai. The Crown confiscated around 18 of the approximately 21 miles (approximately 29 of 34 km or 86%) of the Whakatōhea coastline. … The Crown destroyed Whakatōhea homes, villages and took taonga. The Crown also took control of the infrastructure Whakatōhea had built up in their rohe, including ships, roads and bridges. The Crown sold looted Whakatōhea property to Pākehā buyers, including horses, cattle and the complete machinery of the Ngāti Ira flour mill. The raupatu, along with the Crown violence and looting that preceded it, largely destroyed the thriving economy that Whakatōhea had built up since the 1840s.”

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