Ngati Rehua vote on settlement and sovereignty

By Dean Nathan

The Minister of Treaty Affairs Chris Finlayson says the future of the Ngāti Rehua Settlement Deed is firmly in the hands of its people.  This follows robust and heated exchanges at meetings to ratify a deal that will see Ngāti Rehua cede sovereignty to the Crown.

Some Ngāti Rehua descendants are seriously opposed to the iwi settlement.

Darren Cleave from Motairehe Marae says, “There’s a lot of raruraru here and I think it gets down to the lack of process and the lack of consultation.”

Aperahama Edward from Ngāti Wai says, “Ngāti Rehua are angry because this settlement is disgraceful!  We're being given crumbs and hence the vocal opposition to it.”

A large contingent of Great Barrier Island residents travelled to this ratification meeting in Whananaki to voice their concerns.

Ngāti Wai member Marilyn Stephens says, “It was taken by the Government.  The Te Paparahi block that was ours and then all of a sudden it was gone.  The Mokohinau I want them back they were our fishing grounds.”

Chair and chief negotiator Nicola MacDonald received most of the backlash from beneficiaries at this meeting who say they were shocked at finding out the trustees had initialled a settlement only days before Christmas.

Ngāti Rehua Ngāti Wai ki Aotea Trust spokesperson Nicola MacDonald says, “They're expressing that they're not in support but equally there are a number of our people that are in support.”

Minister of Treaty settlements Chris Finlayson says, “[The meeting was] a good robust exchange of views and I'm happy with that.  But it’s really not for me to comment.  It’s in the hands of the iwi now ratification is an issue that is primarily that of the iwi.”

It's used extensively these days for the conservation of endangered birds and wildlife. Just over six hectares of the total 285 square kilometres of land on the Great Barrier Island will be returned to Ngāti Rehua under a settlement where Ngāti Rehua will cede sovereignty to the Crown.

MacDonald said, “If our people ultimately sign off and ratify our settlement then the work truly begins.  The work begins to sustain our future and to keep a place of belonging for all our mokopuna.  If our people again say no the time is not right then we must respect that.”

Voting on the ratification of this settlement closes on February 14.