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Select committee unanimously recommends redress bill

Papawai Marae hosted the Māori Affairs Select Committee hearing for Te Rohe o Rongokako Joint Redress Bill in June. PHOTO/FILE

Despite vocal opposition from some, the Government’s Māori Affairs Committee has unanimously recommended the passing of Te Rohe o Rongokako Joint Redress Bill.

The bill seeks cultural redress shared among Rangitāne o Wairarapa, Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-a-Rua [Rangitāne], and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua [Ngāti Kahungunu], as outlined in deeds of settlement signed in 2016 and 2021.

The settlements provided for sites and catchments throughout the Wairarapa rohe, including reserves at Castlepoint, Mataikona, Mākirikiri, and Wairarapa Moana.

In addition, the legislation would establish a Wairarapa Moana Statutory Board comprising members appointed by Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu, the Minister of Conservation, Greater Wellington Regional Council and South Wairarapa District Council.

At a submission hearing in June, representatives of Ngāti Kahungunu spoke in support of the bill, while the more than 20 submitters from Rangitāne opposed the bill due to the proposed shared management arrangement of Mākirikiri Reserve.

In the bill, it is stated the land would be vested in the tipuna Rangiwhakaewa and administered by a joint management board.

Both iwi claimed whakapapa to the reserve and ancestor, Te Rangiwhakaewa.

However, Rangitāne submitters who opposed the bill disputed Ngāti Kahungunu’s link.

They said the Mākirikiri Reserve should belong to Rangitāne.

In a recently published document, the Māori Affairs Committee said it “carefully considered evidence provided regarding vesting of Mākirikiri reserve in the tipuna Te Rangiwhakaewa”.

“We sought advice from officials on the circumstances leading to the ratification of the Mākirikiri redress.

“We acknowledge the submitters’ concerns.

“Matters arose regarding active remedies litigation; these do not relate to this current bill.”

The committee said after examining the bill, it “recommends unanimously that it be passed”.

It said the bill recognised that while Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitāne were separate groups and traced descent from different ancestors, “they were closely interconnected”.

“They share whakapapa throughout the Wairarapa and Tāmaki nui-a-Rua regions.

“The bill does not aim to settle any historical claims for either Ngāti Kahungunu or Rangitāne.”

Rangitāne’s historical claims were settled through the Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā [Wairarapa Tamaki nui-ā-Rua] Claims Settlement Act 2017.

Ngāti Kahungunu settlement legislation is going through the Select Committee process.

The Joint Redress Bill provides for the vesting of two other redress properties.

The Mataikona property would be vested in fee simple in the trustees of the trusts for Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitāne, with a 50 per cent share each.

The Wairarapa Moana property would be vested in fee simple in the trustees of the two trusts, as a local purpose reserve.

The Ngāti Kahungunu trust would have a 90 per cent share and Rangitāne trust 10 per cent.

Te Rohe o Rongokako Joint Redress Bill passed its first parliamentary reading in March.

The select committee process finished on September 30. The next step for the bill will be a second reading in Parliament. – NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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