A milestone is to be reached today with the third and final treaty settlement readings of Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi being heard in Parliament.
The passing of the Taranaki Iwi Claims Settlement Bill, Te Atiawa Claims Settlement Bill, and the Ngāruahine Claims Settlement Bill signal the end of a long and intensive settlement process for each of the iwi.
The Chair of Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust, Will Edwards says, “For each iwi and every individual, today’s legislation will mean different things. For iwi of Taranaki, our colonial history is one of trauma and deprivation stemming from unjust actions by the Crown. Today goes some way towards recognising and redressing that hurt and the wrongs done to our tūpuna.”
The three iwi worked collaboratively, discussing issues of mutual interest, exchanging ideas and providing general support to each other.
“Treaty settlements are never easy processes,” says Edwards, “But the kotahitanga that has developed between our iwi has made negotiations easier and positioned us strongly as we commence maunga negotiations with the Crown. Going through the settlement process side by side and exploring how we can make a collective impact together - now and in the future - has strengthened Taranaki Māori.”
Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Chair Liana Poutu is reflective regarding the challenges of the settlement process for Māori.
“The treaty settlement process can often cause new hurts and revive old ones,” says Poutu, “And all three iwi have experienced challenges along the way. For many of our people, today is a very reflective time as we remember the events and people who have led us to this point."
Taranaki Iwi Trust Chair Tokatumoana Walden highlights the benefits of the ‘tri-iwi’ approach to achieving treaty settlements for smaller iwi.
“The general public probably can’t appreciate the David and Goliath type setting that occurs in treaty settlements particularly for smaller iwi,” says Walden, “Working with Ngāruahine and Te Atiawa gave us a better chance at doing the best for our people – that is what all of this is about – acknowledging the muru raupatu that occurred in Taranaki and the memories of our tūpuna and creating a vibrant future for our mokopuna.”
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson has expressed admiration for the cooperative efforts of the three iwi.
“Each iwi has its own aspirations and individual settlement but their ability to work collaboratively has helped progress the interests of their people,” says Finlayson.
The iwi have signaled an intention to continue to utilise the collective kaupapa in the near future, including in negotiations over customary marine titles and Taranaki Maunga.