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Iwi fears hurt over settlement

Members of Ngati Kahungunu at Parliament after its Treaty Settlement Bill passed its first reading. PHOTO/FILE

‘Tipuna rendered virtually landless’

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa fears further delays and more hurt after Friday’s claims settlement Maori select committee hearing.

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua Settlement Trust chair Haami Te Whaiti said whanau [family] and hapu [group] had always been the priority for the trust.

“Our people voted in favour of settlement, and they’ve asked us to continue forward – which is what we are doing.

“We fear any further delays, including awaiting litigation to run its course with no certain outcome, risks prolonging or causing even more mamae [hurt].”

The Wairarapa Moana Incorporation [WMI] called for an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing last year, arguing WAI85 [Pouakani lands] should not be included in the Ngati Kahungunu settlement.

Te Whaiti said the Settlement Trust appreciated their concerns and acknowledged their right to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention.

He said the court process ensured WMI would get an outcome regardless of whether Ngati Kahungunu’s settlement legislation proceeded or not.

“However, if legislation does proceed, it does mean WMI cannot be heard by the Waitangi Tribunal.”

He said that aspect was not unique to Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa’s settlement or legislation.

Te Whaiti said the trust appreciated WMI’s stance of not wanting to hold up Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa’s settlement but wanting to see WAI85 removed from their claim.

“Yet, the Waitangi Tribunal has previously found that resumption of the Maraetai dam land at Pouakani for WAI85 based on breaches against those at Pouakani alone would be disproportionate.”

He said their settlement was for everyone who whakapapa [are related to] to Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua.

“We are hopeful about the future that lies ahead with our settlement in front of us.”

Te Whaiti said in his opening submission to the Claims Settlement Bill Select Committee on Friday that the Crown had taken 1.5 million acres for paltry sums.

He said the Crown had promised Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa koha [money] for the profits it made off of the land, but the promise was never fulfilled.

“The Crown promised to set aside reserves, but it did not.”

He said by 1900, 90 per cent of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa’s land within Wairarapa and Tamaki-nui-a-Rua was gone.

Te Whaiti said 20th-century purchasing and public works takings took much of what remained, leaving just 1.5 per cent, or 35,000 acres, of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa’s original whenua [land] reserves, many of which were landlocked.

“Our tipuna were rendered virtually landless, as we now remain.”

He said after 30 years of fighting to protect Wairarapa Moana from Crown and settler interference, his tipuna [ancestors] relented and gifted Wairarapa Moana to the Crown in the spirit of rangatira [being better off] to end the discord.

“The Crown was supposed to protect our interests in the lake and set aside ample reserves to access the lake for food and other resources. The Crown did neither.”

Te Whaiti said the Crown’s breaches had caused lasting prejudice, and the hurt felt for centuries was still impacting his whanau [family] today.

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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