Emotions were running high in Te Tai Tokerau on Saturday as 100 members of Ngāpuhi hapū Te Whiu were reunited with their whenua, confiscated by the Crown more than 185 years ago.
The Native Land Court had ordered the 452ha farm at Puketotara inland from Kerikeri to be returned back in 1921 but complications, including the delayed Ngāpuhi settlement and Crown misdealings, meant it never happened.
The land, which will be part of the eventual Ngāpuhi settlement, to be returned to Te Whiu, is being tentatively handed back via a nominal $1 lease until the settlement is made.
Te Whiu kaikōrero Duane Allen says what it means" is that we have wrested control back around the structure and the organisation of who was on that whenua, who was farming that whenua. And we're in a place where we can make decisions around it with regard to the $1 lease.”
That lease will be every year for 10 years, with a further 10-year right of renewal.
“For us, it's certainly an affirmation of the aspirations that we have. And it's a step in the right direction, as we focus on the future and what that might hold for us moving forward.”
Though it was “overwhelmingly positive”, there was still mamae felt too on the weekend, he says. But what happened can now be set as an example to future redresses, not only in Te Tai Tokerau but across the country.
“We won’t forget the many tūpuna who have died and never had an opportunity to do what we did on Saturday.
“It enables us to put together a vision, think strategically about where we're going to move to in the next five to 20 years, [and] really bring some meaning to the aspirations that our many tūpuna had.
“That is an example of not being passive. Don't sit back and wait for something to happen. Be active, be involved, have the conversations you need to have."