22 Feb 2014

Auckland tribe, Crown sign deed

5:32 pm on 22 February 2014

Auckland iwi Te Kawerau a Maki has signed its Treaty settlement with the Crown.

Compensation includes $6.5 million to buy most of Riverhead Forest and land and $300,000 towards the cost of building a marae at Te Onekiritea Point (Hobsonville). Further cultural redress includes the vesting of nine significant cultural sites to the iwi.

Like many iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki had a painful past under colonialism, and was left with little land and no marae.

Part of Riverhead Forest.

Part of Riverhead Forest. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Northern Maori war parties drove descendants from Auckland into exile in Waikato.

Some returned to West Auckland but over time European settlers and the Crown bought up ancestral land without the tribe's knowledge.

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson says the past wrongs can never be fully compensated but the settlement will help the iwi develop a strong cultural and economic future.

Te Kawerau a Maki's claims are based on the Crown's actions and omissions, including extensive Crown purchases in the three decades following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Mr Finlayson says what reserves that had been set aside for Te Kawerau a Maki were never protected and were gradually alienated from tribal control, and the iwi was rendered virtually landless.

He says this had a severe impact on the health and well-being of the Te Kawerau a Maki community with effects that continue to be felt today.

"Te Kawerau a Maki has waited a long time to reach this day," Mr Finlayson says. "While we can never fully compensate for the wrongs of the past, this settlement will enable the people of Te Kawerau a Maki to focus on developing a strong cultural and economic future."

He says the settlement includes the purchase of 86 percent of Riverhead Crown Forest Licence land, which will be a significant commercial asset for Te Kawerau a Maki.

The signing, the 69th deed of settlement to be signed by the Crown, took place at Makaurau Marae in South Auckland on Saturday.

The Crown was represented by Mr Finlayson, Whanau Ora MinisterTariana Turia and Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

It was witnessed by MPs Claudette Hauiti and Tau Henare. The Maori King, Kingi Tuheitia, and representatives of other iwi also attended.

The settlement will be given effect through legislation.