Te Whakatōhea will be in Ōpōtiki this weekend for the signing of its deed of settlement with the Crown, and the date is of historical significance for the iwi.
It will happen on May 27 at Whitikau Reserve, which is the same day 183 years ago that Te Whakatōhea chiefs signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust chair Graeme Riesterer says “This is a historic moment for Te Whakatōhea. Our tūpuna were forced off their lands and driven on to Ōpape reservation by the Crown, severing the connection our people had with the whenua across our rohe.
"This resulted not only in the loss of our lands but also their identity and connection to the whenua.
"But our people are resilient, their Whakatōheatanga strong, and the signing of this deed of settlement with the Crown further solidifies our determination to heal, rebuild and reclaim our cultural heritage."
The deed will be signed at Whitikau Reserve, a place that holds significance to the iwi.
The original name (Whitikau) was changed to Volkners Island during the building of the Ōpōtiki township, and it is now more recognisable as the "Skate Park." Whānau and tamariki currently use the reserve as a place to spend time and connect with one another.
“The settlement will be transformational for Te Whakatōhea," Riesterer says. "Our people are strong, but the settlement will provide increased opportunities for our whānau and community. We will be in a position to invest in our people and the local economy.
"It is also expected to bring further investment to the region, resulting in greater employment opportunities and improved earning potential and living conditions for all our whānau.”