By Stefan Dimitrof and Raurukitahi Mane-Wheoki | Te Ia Ka Oho
The Waitangi Tribunal has confirmed in its latest report that the Crown overstepped its authority to govern northern Māori whānau, hapū and iwi between 1840 and 1900. The report details numerous Treaty breaches that have left a "severe and lasting prejudice" against Northland iwi.
The delivery of the report has been received as a “great Christmas present,” by Whangārei hapū claims co-ordinator Nikki Wakefield.
“It has been a few years while we’ve waited for the stage two report and now it's here," she says.
The report is the follow-up to the first stage report released in 2014, which identified important information about the northern rangatira who signed Te Tiriti in the Bay of Islands and Hokianga in 1840.
The report confirms that those rangatira did not cede their sovereignty to the Crown or allow the creation or enforcement of law against their places or peoples. However, what they did agree to was a relationship with the governor recognising them as equals in their respective communities.
Te Orewai Ngā Hapū o Whangārei Huhana Lyndon said this was important for the iwi and hapū of the north.
“I am delighted to read the pages of this report on Christmas, to feel the love and the pain of my ancestors as I read it.”
Ngāti Hine secretary-general Pita Tipene had words of warning for future generations.
“You must adhere to the plan of the ancestors, the plan that Kawiti preached. Let the fly close the page of the book, and therefore turn away. Those words have not changed since my generation, and they shouldn't change in future generations either.”
An emotional Wakefield says the latest report can't be read without a few tears because of the time it has taken to get to this point and the people they have lost along the way.
Wakefield also says that the report is a “robust analysis based on a large amount of evidence” - evidence that has been provided by the 415 claimants who came forward with the desire to regain and express their rangatiratanga, which was agreed upon by signing Te Tiriti.
The report into Te Paparahi o Te Raki, which investigated and detailed the Crown breaches, is nearly 2000 pages long.
Claimants say they will use the coming days to turn the pages of the report, reflect on the findings, and come together after six years of waiting.