Waitangi Tribunal recommends "Whanganui not Wanganui"

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

"Whanganui not Wanganui".

That's one of the recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal to the Crown in the Whanganui Land report. It's one of 83 claims submitted in preparation for the tribe's treaty settlement.

The tribunal's recommendations include the return of Whanganui National Park to tangata whenua, which is over 74,000 hectares of land.

Tai Hauauru Labour MP, Adrian Rurawhe says, “It's a huge area 742,000 km2 and if we have a look back into the history it was taken in a way that was so close to Raupatu it surely needs to be returned.”

Today over 95,000 hectares of land remain in Māori ownership, which is about 11% of the district. But Rurawhe says it's a huge concern. 

“The whole process of colonisation, the actions of the Crown, the breaches that the Crown committed to the treaty of Waitangi has meant that Whanganui iwi are virtually landless," explained Rurawhe.

Whanganui iwi and hapū settled their river claims last year and received a redress of around $110 million. Whanganui Spokesperson, Gerard Albert says two separate settlements is necessary.

“When it comes to land settlements it's easier to facilitate who has ownership,” says Albert.

The report will now be presented to the tribes and hapū of Whanganui, before the deed of settlement is created and presented to the government.