Hundreds witness iwi Treaty ceremony

5:33 pm on 13 April 2013

Ngati Rarua has marked a milestone as representatives of the Marlborough iwi signed a Treaty settlement with the Crown in a ceremony on Saturday.

More than 300 Ngati Rarua descendants gathered near Blenheim to witness the historic occasion.

A new entity will be established, the Ngati Rarua Settlement Trust, which will receive and manage the assets once the settlement is passed into legislation.

Treaty of Waitangi negotiations minister, Chris Finlayson, says the Deed of Settlement with Ngati Rarua is a significant step towards resolving the iwi's Treaty grievances.

Mr Finlayson says the actions of the Crown left Ngati Rarua without sufficient land for their needs, which had serious consequences still felt to this day.

He says the settlement will go some way towards building a strong economic future for the iwi in the region.

An overwhelming majority of the tribe - 99% - had voted in favour of the settlement package that includes financial redress of $11.76 million and gives Ngati Rarua the opportunity to purchase Wairau and Motueka Crown forestry land near Nelson.

Chief negotiator, Lee Luke, says the deal is less than was hoped for but will enable the iwi to move forward.

The signing ceremony at the Parerarua Centre near Blenheim drew iwi members from all parts of the country.