Te Ūpokorehe want their claims to be heard

Tomorrow, the Māori Affairs Committee will release their report based on submissions presented to them concerning the Tūhoe Settlement Bill.

In accordance with that report, members of Te Ūpokorehe today gathered at Maraetōtara, a site of historical significance to Te Ūpokorehe, Te Whakatōhea and Tūhoe in Ōhope, urging that their claims to significant sites be heard.

Protesters say that Tūhoe have no right to their lands, and that their lands and assets must be withdrawn from the Tūhoe Settlement Bill.  

Wallace Aramoana (Te Ūpokorehe) says, "If the bill is signed, then we'll become ghosts in our own region.  Our rights to the sea and land, our very sovereignty will be lost."

But Tūhoe have a clear vision and that vision is to move forward.  

Recently, the Māori Affairs Select Committee held submission hearings for the Tūhoe Settlement Bill and tomorrow that report is due to be released.  

However, Te Ūpokorehe now say that not all of Tūhoe can lay claim to their lands, which includes Ōhiwa.  

Mr Aramoana also says, "Not all tribes have a connection to the sea, only those from Te Waimana Kaaku because of their genealogy."

Last year, Te Ūpokorehe had a urgent hearing in the High Court to present their concerns before Judge Joe Williams.  The main focus is centred on the fact that their claims haven't yet been presented before the Waitangi Tribunal.  

Kahukore Baker (Te Ūpokorehe) explains, "The problem is the Te Urewera Bill [...] takes in all Ūpokorehe tribal territory, it also gives Tūhoe mana whenua status in our rohe, that they never have had."

The Tūhoe Settlement Bill had its first reading in Parliament last year, and if it reaches its third reading, it will become law.

Tūhoe Te Uru Taumatua wasn't available to make comment.