Tauranga iwi Ngati Pukenga has signed a Deed of Settlement with the Crown to settle its Treaty of Waitangi claims.
Hundreds of members of Ngati Pukenga, other iwi, guests and representatives of the Crown gathered at Te Whetu o te Rangi marae at Welcome Bay on Sunday to sign a Deed of Settlement.
Ngati Pukenga was left virtually landless after the Crown initiated military conflict in 1864 and subsequently confiscated large tracts of land in Western Bay of Plenty.
This was despite the fact Ngati Pukenga had honoured an early agreement with the Crown not to engage in the conflict.
The settlement includes financial and commercial redress of $5 million, the return of culturally significant properties including Liens block, Pae ki Hauraki, Te Tihi o Hauturu and Otukopiri, $500,000 for cultural revitalisation and $180,000 for marae revitalisation in Manaia.
Rehua Smallman, who is the chairman of Te Au Maaro o Pukenga, the body which has negotiated the claims on behalf of Ngati Pukenga descendants, said the signing of the deed of settlement is a time for reflection, not celebration.
"It was bad enough that our land got confiscated in the first place. But, to then be shut out of the Native Land court process in the 1880s that saw some iwi get some of their land back really rubbed salt into the wounds," Mr Smallman said.
"However, our people voted overwhelmingly to accept this deal so we could all move on and try to build a better future for our mokopuna."
Mr Smallman said Ngati Pukenga voted overwhelmingly to accept the deal so the iwi could move on in order to build a better future for their mokopuna.
Lead claims negotiator Rahera Ohia said the settlement process is arduous and sometimes divisive which at times can pit you against your neighbours and your relations.
"Our forebears have protested the actions of the Crown and fought for wrongs to be addressed since the 1800s. Those of us here are the mouthpiece of those who carried this fight for over a century," Ms Ohia said.
"It was a courageous decision by our people to overwhelmingly accept this settlement and give us the opportunity as a people to move forward".