The Ruapehu tribes of Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki, are one step closer to Treaty settlement.
On Friday, 23 November 2018, Uenuku chair Aiden Gilbert and the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Hon. Andrew Little signed an Agreement in Principle (AIP) at Parliament. Ahead of the signing Mr Gilbert said the mamae (hurt) felt by others going through the settlement process was the same for the tribes of Te Korowai o Wainuiārua.
“The grief is the same and today I’m humbled, humbled because of the enormity of the kaupapa (issue). I’m reminded by our kaumātua and kuia of the tautoko (support) that has been necessary as we continue on this journey to the goal of redress for all of those who have and have handed down this rākau (challenge) but now passed. When we started off on this journey we looked around at all those who have been through this Crown process and we also acknowledge them for their taha (part) and their endurance.”
In reply, Minister Little acknowledged the importance of reaching such a significant milestone in the Treaty process for Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki. “This is a significant day for you. It is also a very significant day for Aotearoa,” Minister Little said. “The signing of your agreement in principle is an important turning point in the relationship between the Crown and Te Korowai o Wainuiārua on behalf of Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki. By signing this agreement, we are committed to work together to address your historic grievances and raise the socio-economic situation of the hapu within your rohe.”
Included in the Te Korowai o Wainuiārua agreement is an acknowledgement and apology from the Crown, cultural redress including a partnership agreement with the Department of Conservation and the vesting back of land within the Erua Forest Conservation area for the iwi to develop an eco-sanctuary and tourism venture at Pōkākā.
The Te Korowai o Wainiārua core area of interest mainly consists of Crown conservation estate including the Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks that are being settled separately. A number of relationship agreements sit alongside financial redress of $21.7-million and cultural redress of $900,000. Crown owned properties including 183-hectares of Crown Forestry land at Erua and the former 500-hectare Waikune Prison will be purchased. National Park and Raetihi Schools and Police Stations along with the Landcorp farm Raurimu Station have been identified for potential purchase or transfer and leaseback.
Historically the Crown has had very little contact with the Te Korowai o Wainuiārua tribes from the remote interior of the Whanganui District. With negotiations continuing, Te Korowai o Wainuiārua lead negotiator Chris McKenzie said discussions to confirm the historical account are yet to be finalised.
“Our kōrero is that first contact with the Crown occurred on 24 February 1865 when the 68th regiment invaded Ohoutahi Pā. This first contact preceded one of the largest single Crown acquisitions in the North Island in 1886 being the Waimarino block followed by two other big blocks being Taumatamāhoe and Whitianga.”
These three blocks totalled a combined 715,000 acres.
From the beginning of the twentieth century, the Crown disengaged again with Uenuku, Tamakana, and Tamahaki, except when it required the hapū to relinquish further tribal lands for public works purposes, Minister Little said. “Now, Uenuku, Tamakana, and Tamahaki are all virtually landless. This landlessness has contributed to many of your people leaving your rohe to seek economic opportunities elsewhere. Those who remain have endured difficult socio-economic conditions which must be rectified.”
The Te Korowai o Wainuiārua negotiations team is now working toward finalising a Deed of Settlement with the Crown which they hope to initial by late 2019/early 2020.