25 Sep 2008

Historic day for Treaty settlements

8:15 pm on 25 September 2008

Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen says it is an historic day for Treaty settlements in New Zealand.

Parliament unanimously passed three settlements under urgency on Thursday, including legislation enabling the Te Arawa Treaty settlement.

A deal with the affiliates of Te Arawa iwi and hapu was signed in June, over their grievance claims.

It includes a formal apology for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and the transfer of 19 areas of Crown-owned land of special significance.

The package does not include most forestry assets, because they are now part of a wider, central North Island collective settlement, which was also passed on Thursday.

That is the largest Treaty settlement to date. It involves 176,000 hectares of forestry and almost $250 million in rentals that the land has accrued since being placed in trust.

MPs also passed a settlement with Te Roroa under urgency.

A number of iwi from the Far North to Wellington spent the day at Parliament.

Dr Cullen says unlike most of the "endless sideshows" at Parliament, the Treaty bills are an enduring part of New Zealand's legacy.