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Treaty resumption order opens doors

The resumption applications cover the return of the Maraetai power scheme land and forest land at Ngaumu in Wairarapa. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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The Wairarapa Moana Incorporation’s push for land in Mangakino, north of Taupo, to be included in Treaty settlement claims has received the green light after a favourable ruling from the Waitangi Tribunal.

Wairarapa Moana Incorporated chairman Kingi Smiler said for many years it had faced sustained opposition, from both the Crown and Ngati Kahunungu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui-a- Rua Settlement Trust, in pursuing its Treaty claim for the Maraetai power scheme at Mangakino.

“Most people didn’t think this was a possibility,” he said.

The land at Mangakino had been given to local iwi after the destruction of the fishing economy based around Lake Wairarapa.

No Crown land was available in Wairarapa, so the reserve land Mangakino was offered instead.

In 1947, this land was bought back by the Crown to build the Maraetai power scheme.

However, the Waitangi Tribunal found that this land was wrongly taken and that the Crown should have better compensated the Incorporation’s owners due to the land’s unique value for creating a nationally significant source of electricity.

The tribunal has now issued a favourable report on the resumption applications for these assets by the Incorporation [Wai 85], and also for Crown forest land by Ngai Tumapuhia-a-Rangi [Wai 429].

The resumption applications cover the return of the Maraetai power scheme land and improvements, owned by Mercury Energy, and forest land at Ngaumu in Wairarapa, which have a combined value of from $800 million to $1.2 billion.

“This will provide the potential opportunity to receive a significantly better Treaty settlement than the $97m package negotiated and recommended by our iwi negotiators in the Settlement Trust,” Kingi said.

He said it was good to have reached this stage but there was still a long way to go.

“It is of critical importance in this next stage that we do not sell ourselves short, and the incorporation will continue to advocate for the best outcomes for Wairarapa Moana shareholders and the Ngati Kahunungu
ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui-a-Rua Iwi.”

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