Iwi and hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa have today signed their Deed of Settlement with the Crown, at an official ceremony held at Tākitimu Marae in Wairoa.
The ceremony was an historic event for the region, attended by whānau members of the original claimants, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Hon Christopher Finlayson, Members of Parliament and Crown officials, along with many iwi and hapū representatives.
Te Tira Whakaemi o Te Wairoa Chairman Tāmati Olsen said the Deed of Settlement represents a significant turning point for the iwi and hapū of Wairoa.
“This is a huge occasion for our people of Te Wairoa and for this region,” he said.
“We remember those who have passed along the way as we have negotiated this Settlement – their guidance and their struggles are what kept both the negotiators and our governance group going even when times got tough.
“Our people have waited for over thirty years to get to this point.”
The Deed of Settlement was signed by the Initial Trustees of Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust, the newly-established Post-Settlement Governance Entity (PSGE).
This is the fifth largest Treaty of Waitangi Settlement to date and includes financial redress of $100 million, which is made up of cash and shares in forest land. The Settlement also includes first rights of refusal over 147 properties held by the Department of Conservation, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Land Information New Zealand and the Office of Treaty Settlements Landbank.
Lead Negotiator for Te Tira Whakaemi o Te Wairoa John Whaanga, and Mr Olsen, who has also been elected as a Trustee for Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust, spoke on behalf of the claimant community. Minister Finlayson delivered the official Crown Apology to the iwi and hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa.
“We will never forget our past, but to receive the Crown Apology and close the door on those grievances is really satisfying,” Mr Whaanga said.
“Our old people told us to get the best Settlement we could and I truly believe we have done that.
“The story of our Settlement journey is one of empowerment, of our people and of our place in Te Wairoa, and it will be told for many generations.”
Mr Olsen said that the occasion marked the beginning of a new era for the iwi and hapū of Wairoa.
“Today, we can begin to look forward and start the next stage of our journey, where we will work to build a better future – economically, socially and culturally – for our whānau, our tamariki, and all those who come after them.”