19 Aug 2008

Wellington Treaty settlement signed

5:36 pm on 19 August 2008

About 1000 people gathered in Wellington on Tuesday for the signing of the Wellington Treaty Settlement.

The settlement covers 17,000 descendants of the Taranaki iwi, Te Ati Awa, who were in the Wellington region when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen signed the deed on behalf of the Crown at Pipitea Marae in front of a big crowd, many elderly, who had travelled to Wellington for the ceremony.

The agreement includes an apology to the iwi, known as Taranaki Whanui, a $25 million cash settlement, and the return of three islands in Wellington Harbour.

The deed contains provision for a first option to purchase a number of Crown properties, including land under Archives New Zealand, the National Library and the High Court.

Ngatata Love, chairman of the Port Nicholson Block Claims Team, which negotiated the settlement, says it will help resurrect the language and culture of Taranaki Whanui and revitalise its social and economic development.

Taranaki Whanui describe the signing as an emotionally bitter-sweet day, saying it caps 21 years of efforts to deal with land grievances dating back 168 years.

The Government says the settlement and apology were long overdue.