7 Jun 2013

Tribes welcome passing of Treaty settlements into law

8:25 am on 7 June 2013

Tribes behind two Treaty of Waitangi settlement bills that passed their third and final readings in Parliament on Thursday say they've finally reached the end of a long journey.

Three Treaty settlement bills were put before MPs for their individual readings under extended hours in Parliament.

Auckland's Ngati Whatua o Kaipara and Waitaha of Te Arawa waka passed their third readings.

Haahi Walker of Ngati Whatua o Kaipara.

Haahi Walker of Ngati Whatua o Kaipara. Photo: RNZ

The tribe's package includes an apology and a total of $22.1 million as well as the return of several sites, subject to conditions, which includes the Ten Acre Block Recreation Reserve.

Nga Maunga Whakahi o Kaipara chairperson Haahi Walker is pleased and says it's good to reach the end of a 21-year journey.

He says his tribe was left virtually landless by the Crown, and now the bill has passed its third reading the tribe now has its mana whenua back.

Waitaha has 2000 registered beneficiaries. Its settlement includes a total of $11.8 million and acknowledges, among other things, the treatment of their prophet and chief Hakaraia Mahika who was killed by Crown forces in 1870.

Frank Grant of Waitaha Raupatu Trust.

Frank Grant of Waitaha Raupatu Trust. Photo: RNZ

Waitaha Raupatu Trust chair Frank Grant says he was relieved to hear the MPs say 'Aye' and passing the bill and it was pleasing to hear the Crown apologise about the treatment of Hakaraia Mahika.

The Government prefers to negotiate Treaty packages with large iwi groups or natural groupings, but Mr Grant thinks the Crown was happy to continue talks with his iwi because they had already started the negotiation process and discussions were at an advanced stage.

Mr Grant says negotiations started in 2008 when it was collaborating with another iwi, Ngati Makino.

The bills have to be signed off by the Governor-General before settlement assets are handed over to the tribal governing bodies.

Meanwhile, Te Tau Ihu Claims Settlement Bill worth $300 million and covering eight iwi in the top of the South Island passed its first reading.