Tariana Turia: Maraeroa A and B Block Deed of Settlement signing

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It is my great honour to be with you today, on a day of such meaning and such significance for Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Rereahu, and Ngati Tuwharetoa all coming together under the mantle of Te Maru o Rereahu Trust.

I am pleased to be here to represent the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Hon Chris Finlayson, and to sign this Deed of Settlement with you.

This is a day in which inevitably our thoughts return to the original owners in the blocks, as recorded in the Maori Land Court books of 1886 and 1891.

The beneficiaries of this settlement are the direct descendants of those who once owned these lands, rather than being based on iwi affiliation.

In this respect this settlement is unique in the Treaty settlement framework and I congratulate you all for your initiative and your vision.

As I stand here today to mihi to your endeavours, I want to also pay my respects to the whanau of Charlie Wehi the original claimant and Murdoch Paki a much respected member of Te Maru o Rereahu Trust.

One of the sorrows of the settlement process is simply in understanding the journey you travel together. When significant milestones are reached today and some of your loved ones are no longer standing here beside you the sadness is always felt.

But we must also remember the passion and the drive that got you to this point today.

And I have to say, given that your negotiations only began in 2009 it is a great tribute to your collaboration and your determination that we are now celebrating such an important milestone in your journey.

And so I want to really acknowledge Te Maru o Rereahu Trust for your commitment to negotiating this claim.

The redress elements of this settlement will directly and meaningfully benefit the descendents of the original owners of the A and B blocks.

The cultural redress will reaffirm your relationships with sites of significance within the Maraeroa blocks. The commercial redress elements of the settlement will help provide a platform for economic advancement of your people.

The package comprises significant redress of land. It will enable:

  • the option to purchase 286 hectares of Pureora North Crown Forest Licence land;
  • accumulated rentals and New Zealand Units associated with Pureora North Crown Forest land;
  • a right of first refusal over DOC land at Pureora Village for a period of 50 years;
  • six sites of Crown land – approximately 1,793 hectares – to be vested in fee simple with four of the sites subject to a conservation covenant; and
  • $40,000 to explore the vesting of Ng? Herenga P? site, a key site of significance for you, being the place where Rereahu died.

A very important aspect of the agreement relates to the acknowledgment of wahi tapu.

There are 14 statutory acknowledgements over cultural significant sites.

And a particularly treasured aspect of the agreement is the overlay classification for the maunga Pureora o Kahu, which will enable recognition of the spiritual, cultural, historical and traditional values of the uri in relation to this maunga.

It is very pleasing to see the commitment to a high level partnership agreement with the Director General of Conservation and the Department of Conservation relating to the management of public conservation land within the blocks.

And I am sure that you are also proud of the progress you have made, in the opportunity to explore place name changes with the New Zealand Geographic Board Nga Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa.

As I understand it, the intention is for Kokakotaia to change to Kokakotaea; and for Paruho to Paruhou.

There has been much achieved and as I said earlier in record timing.

You must be truly commended for your efficiency, your commitment to working together, and the way in which you have embraced the opportunity to achieve progress as a collective.

Your genuine and enduring commitment to the collective will be continued, when as part of the initial post settlement governance arrangements, representatives of the iwi bodies for Ng?ti T?wharetoa, Ngati Raukawa and Ng?ti Maniapoto will be provided for on the Trust entity.

And I cant help but think how appropriate it is that this ceremony is being help at Pa Harakeke. I have been very impressed by the initiative you have established here in creating an eco-cultural centre and plantation for Maori flax and other native plants.

The concept of Pa Harakeke is one which resonates well with any deed of settlement negotiated on behalf of your descendants.

As we know, around the outside of the harakeke plant we feel the strength and protection of our tupuna. The cloak of our ancestors nurtures us, inspires us and guides us in the right direction.

The inner leaves are our matua walking the talk, taking up the claims on behalf of the next generation.

The most inner leaf is the rito the pepe who will grow and thrive, immersed in the warmth of whanau.

All parts are integral to the healthy plant.

If the heart of harakeke was removed, where will the bellbird sing?

If I was asked, what was the most important thing in the world I would be compelled to reply, it is people, it is people, it is people.

And so I congratulate you and celebrate this significant day a day which sets forth a path for your future a day to be proud of the platform you have laid for your mokopuna and their mokopuna after them.

He aha te mea nui o tea ao? Maku e ki atu; He tangata he tangata he tangata.

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