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Historic signing closes grievances

By Christine McKay
Despite the cold and wet, there was heat and passion at Dannevirke’s Makirikiri Marae on Saturday as Rangitane o Wairarapa and Rangitane o Tamaki nui-a-Rua signed their Treaty of Waitangi Deed of Settlement with the Crown.
The ceremony was attended by more than 300 people, including Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, Members of Parliament, iwi members and Crown officials and iwi from overseas.
Mr Finlayson delivered the official Crown apology to the iwi, which was accepted through poignant korero from Rangitane iwi leader, Manahi Paewai of Dannevirke.
“Rangitane was wiped from the tribal landscape of Aotearoa and by the 1900s we were virtually landless and the worst implication of that early injustice is that many of our own still don’t know, or believe, they are Rangitane,” Mr Paewai said.
The settlement includes financial redress of $32.5 million and the return of key eight cultural sites to the iwi, along with the opportunity to purchase commercial properties including part of Ngaumu Forest.
“This redress will go a long way in helping our people understand who they are and the Minister’s apology today is mana-enhancing,” Mr Paewai said. “While we will never forget, our children will be proud to be Rangitane.”
Saturday’s historic signing closes a long history of grievances for Rangitane and lead negotiator Jason Kerehi, of Masterton, said the significant level of redress for the iwi is testament to the extent of the loss they suffered.
“This redress will allow us to rebuild, which will take time, but we are determined to ensure this settlement works to benefit our people for generations to come. It means a lot.
“As a negotiator I’ve had to overcome a lot of hurdles, not just with the Crown, but with other iwi and ourselves. This is a settlement which has to last forever.”
Mr Kerehi said the Crown’s apology was significant.
Mavis Mullins, a former Golden Shears Society president and Maori businesswomen of the Year,was a member of the negotiation team and now heads Tu Mai Ra, the post-settlement governance entity.
“It’s been a very emotional day.
“I think of my dad who was at the start of all this, but now it’s time to get onto the real work.
“That real work is about realising our dreams and to be successful, socially, culturally and economically. This negotiation has gone on for close to 30 years and the dreams have been built over that timeframe. Now it’s time to leverage the assets and relationships to the next stage of the journey.”
Mrs Mullins said it’s now time to put a line in the sand and “get on with it.”
“It’s time to move out of unrest to know a place of confidence and for Rangitane to be at the table as a real partner.
“We are looking forward to a time when Rangitane and Ngati Kahungunu can relate together in a positive manner because we haven’t been able to do that.
“There are really exciting opportunities for Rangitane and it’s nice to be able to deliver.”
Mr Finlayson said Rangitane have been served by some very skillful and dedicated negotiators and as he reflected on years grievances, with the loss of land, history and culture, the Minister acknowledged the negotiation process had been full of twists and turns.
“I hope and believe this package will mark the beginning of new treaty relationships between the Crown and Rangitane and the Crown apology will be incorporated into legislation taken to Parliament in the next few weeks.”
As Mr Finlayson read the Crown’s unreserved apology many in the audience wept.
The Rangitane settlement covers the second-largest geographical area of any Treaty Settlement to date, with redress sites spanning the region from north of Dannevirke, down to Turakirae (Cape Palliser) and encompassing the wider Wairarapa and Tamaki nui-a-Rua regions.

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