Whakatōhea iwi votes against Treaty settlement split

By Contributor

Members of Te Ūpokorehe protest their inclusion in the Whakatōhea Treaty settlement at the initialling of the settlement in December. Photo: Troy Baker via LDR

Diane McCarthy is a Local Democracy Reporter

More than 61 per cent of voters have said 'no' to Te Ūpokorehe being removed from the Whakatōhea Treaty settlement.

However, the spokesperson for Te Ūpokorehe iwi petitioners, Kahukore Baker, said they were heartened by the fact that the majority of Te Ūpokorehe voters, 62 per cent were in favour of being removed from the settlement.

"Te Upokorehe whānau have sent a clear message to the Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust and the Crown that we want out of this mandate and settlement process," Baker said.

The Whakatōhea settlement with the Crown, which will see $100 million in redress, 5000 hectares of marine space for aquaculture and 6692ha of land returned to the iwi, is currently in the stages of ratification.

In late 2021 a petition was submitted by Te Ūpokorehe Treaty Settlement Trust, objecting to Ūpokorehe claims being swept into the Whakatōhea settlement. The petition stated that Ūpokorehe whakapapa and claims were distinct from those of Whakatōhea.

This triggered a mandate amendment vote, which closed on 30 August. The results of the vote were released on Friday with 1821 voters saying 'no' to Ūpokorehe being removed from the Whakatohea Pre-settlement Trust mandate, and 1128 saying 'yes'.

The results were broken down by hapū, showing that 472 (62.11 per cent) of Ūpokorehe voters wanted to be removed from the Whakatōhea mandate, and 288 (37.89 per cent) want to remain.

Results from each of the other Whakatōhea hapū showed more than half of voters were against Ūpokorehe being excluded from the mandate, with 78.82 per cent of Ngāti Patumoana against the amendment, 73.31 per cent of Ngāti Ruatakena, 72.53 per cent of Ngāti Ngahere, 65.05 per cent of Ngāi Tamahaua and 54.01 per cent of Ngāti Ira.

The voter return was 23.52 per cent, with 2949 valid votes received from 12,559 potential voters.

"The results of this vote are heartening because it is clear that Te Ūpokorehe must retain its own rangatiratanga in settling our own affairs with the Crown and we will always reject attempts by others to settle our affairs on our behalf," Baker said.

"I want to thank our iwi members who have supported us in this vote and I also want to thank members of Whakatōhea hapū that voted yes with us.

"We will not take your tautoko for granted as we move to progress our settlement on our terms."

Baker did however acknowledge that 61 per cent or 1821 members of the Whakatōhea register voted against the resolution.

"While we are uncomfortable that our fate will be determined by another tribe we are committed to settling all grievances that our tīpuna endured at the hands of the Crown and that we continue to face today," she said.

diane.mccarthy@thebeacon.co.nz

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air