The treaty settlement aspirations of the central North Island tribes Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki were heard by Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson in Raetihi on May 16.
The Minister was accompanied by a team from the Office of Treaty Settlements, who spent two days in the region hosted by Uenuku Charitable Trust. The Trust is the mandated body negotiating the settlement of land claims for historic breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi for Te Korowai o Wainuiārua, a large grouping of descendants of Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki. Managers and advisors for the Department of Conservation also attended the Ministerial visit.
Uenuku Charitable Trust chair Aiden Gilbert said the visit was crucial to ensuring that the Minister, his team and DOC understand clearly the experiences, the issues, the histories, the impacts, the concerns and the challenges facing the people of Uenuku, Tamahaki and Tamakana.
“It was good to have this dedicated time with the Minister and to have the opportunity to present an overview of who we are and how we see ourselves in the future.
“After the past few days, I think the Minister and his team know us, our history and our aspirations a little better, and that is a good starting point as our Negotiations Team begins drilling down into some of the ways our grievances should be addressed through this particular process.”
Negotiators for Te Korowai o Wainuiārua and historian Richard Boast presented an overview of Te Korowai o Wainuiārua and its constituent tribes and hapū, the nature of their claims and the historical issues. The party toured a small number of sites of significance and were given an overview of the group’s redress aspirations to address the impact of Treaty breaches suffered by the three tribes and their many hapū.
Among the Minister’s team were Chief Crown Negotiator Rosemary Banks and the regional director of Te Hauāuru for the Office of Treaty Settlements, Julie Tangaere, as well as a Crown historian, land advisor, cultural advisor, and senior managers and analysts. DOC officials included Allan Munn, Director of Operations in the Central North Island, Operations Managers for Whanganui and Tongariro Jasmine Hessell and Bhrent Guy, Biodiversity supervisor for Whanganui Eddie Te Huia, and a team from DOC’s national Treaty Negotiations Unit.
The day-long visit on Tuesday, May 16, began with an early-morning welcome in Raetihi from kaumātua, claimants, Raetihi Primary School children and staff, the Te Korowai o Wainuiārua negotiations team, and the Board of Uenuku Charitable Trust. The children greeted the visitors with a waiata calling upon descendants who are scattered far and wide to return home to their ancestral lands.
“Before he left, the Minister told us he intends to come back soon to talk with us in detail on some of the unusual and unique factors impacting upon our people, and we look forward, on behalf of all those we represent, to moving forward on this pathway to settlement,” Mr Gilbert said.
Photos: John Chapman