The Ngati Hinerangi iwi from eastern Waikato is celebrating after an act was passed in Parliament yesterday, giving it redress for 19th-century events.
It will also receive an apology for the 100,000 hectares of land that were confiscated in Tauranga in 1863 and for the invasion of its villages four years later, where government forces destroyed crops and homes, and punished those opposed to the land confiscation.
The iwi will receive $8.1 million for commercial opportunities including 11 hectares of whenua to address some of the grievances plus a $200,000 cultural fund, $20,000 for a marae rebuild and the return of 14 sites of cultural significance.
While the day may have been special for Ngāti Hinerangi descendants, Treaty Minister Andrew Little acknowledged the settlement would never make up for what was lost.
"I believe it will go a long way to Ngāti Hinerangi re-establishing a connection with various parts of their rohe," Little said.
"[This is] strengthening the identity of Ngāti Hinerangi as tangata whenua, and providing the foundation for a stronger social, cultural and economic future for the iwi."
The bill will see commercial opportunities such as its sacred Te Wairere Falls, North Island's highest waterfall, and a portion of the Southern Waihou Forest, returned to Ngāti Hinerangi.
Since the deed of settlement signing in 2019, Ngāti Hinerangi has already put 27 iwi members into fulltime employment.
Within the past nine months, the iwi entity Te Puāwaitanga o Ngāti Hinerangi Iwi Trust has managed to create work for many descendants who lost their jobs through Covid-19 lockdowns.
Reviving Ngāti Hinerangi cultural values, the iwi entity has created Wairere Toi, a performing arts programme that works with seven schools around Matamata using haka, te reo Māori, arts, and history.
Ngāti Hinerangi descendant Raukawa Manning says the performing arts programme is only the beginning of the work ahead.
"He nui tonu nga mahi mo tatou ke te iwi. ki te kainga ki Matamata, e ako ana i nga korero i nga hitori a o tatou tipuna ki te whakamohio ki te hapori kare i te mohio."
(We have a lot of work involved in Matamata, teaching our history given our community doesn't know much about us).