Taranaki iwi one step closer to $70 million settlement

By Harata Brown

Taranaki iwi have initialled their $70 million Deed of Settlement with the Crown, which they hope will provide unique cultural redress that upholds the historical accounts and on-going legacy of Parihaka.

A poi performed by Taranaki Iwi at the ceremony talks about how their ancestors like Te Whiti o Rongomai and Te Tohu Kākahi were wrongfully detained by the Crown in the late 1800s.

Taranaki Iwi researcher Hemi Sundgren says that the specific names of the detainees were unknown at first.

“Through this process we have been able to find out who exactly was detained”, he says.

Parihaka kuia Whero o Te Rangi Bailey thought the event was of great significance for her village of Parihaka.

Bailey says, “Our ancestors Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai said at the time when the Crown forces invaded, that no matter what happened, our tribe must not fire back.  They made sure that we were passive in our resistance.”

The Deed of Settlement will see 29 properties vested in Taranaki iwi, which includes former railway lands, current and former schools, Cape Egmont conservation sites and the Rata Pihipihi Station.

Ngāmotu Islands or Sugar Loaf Islands will be vested jointly in Taranaki iwi and Te Atiawa.

The Right of First Refusal and Shared Right of First Refusal with Ngaruahine and Te Atiawa will also apply.

Lead Negotiator Jamie Tuuta from Taranaki Iwi Trust says, “We hope to work, collaboratively with the other iwi within our Taranaki region so that we can share our aspirations about how we might develop our lands and grow the assets we receive through the settlement.”

Many descendants of Taranaki iwi have packed the Pukeariki Museum today for this significant occasion.  In 2014, Taranaki iwi put the initialling of their settlement on hold so that Parihaka could be included in it.

Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson says, "I have brought together a group that consists of Parihaka representatives, representatives of Taranaki iwi, as well as a Crown representative.

My crown reps are (Former Tai Hauauru MP) Dame Tariana Turia and (Former Prime Minister) Jim Bolger.  We are working through a package for Parihaka that not only includes the physical infrastructure but making sure that the history of it is properly well-known.”

Tariana Turia says, "The most important thing that I am picking up from the people of Parihaka is that there is a legacy there. There are things that have happened at Parihaka that have to be acknowledged."

The Minister of Treaty Negotiation says that in terms of the "maunga", once all Taranaki iwi are actively settling all Treaty grievances with the Crown, he hopes to be able to move towards plans of a collective settlement for Maunga Taranaki. 

Finlayson says, "And then the next thing I am keen to do is work with Ngāti Maru so they get their mandate so that we can start talking about the maunga and about other aspects of the regional settlement."

A Deed of Settlement is hoped to be signed by Taranaki Iwi and the Crown by August-September.