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‘A step towards reconciliation’

In the final part of its decades-long settlement, the Crown has apologised to Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua.

Iwi and Wairarapa locals gathered at Queen Elizabeth Park in Masterton for the historic event on Saturday.

Settlement Trust chair Haami Te Whaiti said the day was an important step towards reconciliation. He said the iwi was thinking of its ancestors as the apology was delivered to them.

Nearly two years after signing the deed of settlement – which includes $115 million in redress and the return of 27 sites of cultural significance – the iwi has now been able to hear an apology, something that its ancestors fought hard to receive.

“It has been a long trip for our whanau and for us to bring to pass all their work,” kuia Frances Reiri-Smith said.

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said it was a momentous day for Ngati Kahungunu and their settlement journey, which had not been without its challenges.

“Today marks the first step of many more in a renewed partnership between Ngati Kahungunu and the Crown.”

The Crown apology acknowledged the acts and omissions which breached the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in its treatment of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua.

This included the forced cession of tens of thousands of acres of land at Maungaroa in 1845, under threat of Crown violence, as well as the failure to act in good faith during rapid and extensive land purchases throughout the 1850s, and in later public works takings.

The Crown also failed to honour the gifting of Wairarapa Moana with the promised reserves, Little said.

He said it had been more than 30 years since Kahungunu’s first claims were filed with the Waitangi Tribunal – a process which has been divisive at several stages, with one affiliated whanau taking a claim to the Supreme Court last year.

“The Crown pays tribute to the struggles of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui-a-Rua and your ancestors in pursuit of justice for the Crown’s wrongs and especially to those who have not survived to see the settlement completed.

“To you, to your tupuna and your mokopuna, the Crown offers this apology,” Little said.

Now, Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua Settlement Trustee Jareth Fox said this was the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

“A journey where Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa determine for themselves the path forward for us.

“Think of our people because you know us … we are capable of so much, and our wero [challenge] to you today, Minister [Little] is that with your apology, bring also some whakaaro [thoughtfulness] for our reanga [generation].”

Little said the Crown properly recognised the long-standing association of Ngati Kahungunu with the whenua and taonga [treasures] within their rohe: “And it is my sincere hope that this settlement brings a vibrant future for Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua.”

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua, two taiwhenua of Ngati Kahungunu, is a group of interconnected hapu from the Dannevirke and Wairarapa regions and has approximately 12,000 registered members.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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