5 Nov 2014

Law to fix tribe's Treaty breaches

6:12 pm on 5 November 2014

Members of an Auckland tribe with no marae and virtually no land have watched politicians begin putting to rest long-standing grievances created by the Crown.

People of Te Kawerau ā Maki attended Parliament today to witness the first stage of the Government repairing historical Treaty breaches.

Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare

Peeni Henare Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, gave his support for the claims settlement bill, and started his speech by acknowledging the loss of one of the tribe's own, Eru Thompson.

The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Chris Finlayson, offered a slice of history, telling the House how harshly the tribe was treated under colonial rule.

"Te Kawerau ā Maki lost most of their land through extensive and excessive Crown purchases in the three decades after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Reserve set aside were gradually alienated from tribal control. Te Kawerau ā Maki were rendered landless."

The new Māori Party co-leader, Marama Fox, had another story to tell and made no attempt to hide her frustration over the Crown's buying and selling of ancestral land.

Ms Fox said the Crown failed to consider the tribe's interests when granting land to settlers. She went on to give examples of other land purchases, saying when the Crown did not consult the tribe it was the Crown being "true to form".

Marama Fox

Marama Fox Photo: SUPPLIED

Although supporting the proposed legislation, New Zealand First's Pita Parone took issue with the Crown compensation package.

He baulked at the offer to pay the tribe $300,000, which would go toward building a marae. He said that sum in this day and age would probably meet the cost of one toilet.

While also backing the the first reading of the bill, Labour's Peeni Henare issued a word of warning over how Te Kawerau ā Maki might be treated in the future.

"When we consider Tino Rangatiratanga, is this true self-determination?. Yes, I agree it is a start. However, I look forward to a more prosperous time for Te Kawerau ā Maki in years to come."

The Te Kawerau ā Maki Claims Settlement Bill passed its first reading and would now be scrutinised by members of the Māori Affairs Select Committee.

Also in Parliament today were members of four Muriwhenua tribes - from Kaitaia north - to watch the initial reading of their Treaty bill.

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