A child has ended the standoff over the controversial waka Te Raukura by handing over a $150,000 cheque to Wellington’s mayor.
Waiwhetu Maori yesterday handed Wellington City Council the cheque for the waka, in a settlement that sees ownership of the waka return to Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui Inc, and brings High Court proceedings to a close.
The settlement comes after Waiwhetu Maori refused to hand back the waka, which they had repaired, earlier this year.
The waka was meant to be the focal point of a specially built wharewaka on the Wellington waterfront.
High Court proceedings to decide ownership of the waka were suspended last month after court-ordered mediation led to an agreement under which Waiwhetu Maori would take ownership of the waka, in exchange for $150,000 which the council would use to build a new waka.
Payment was due by last Thursday, but the trust missed the deadline, saying it understood payment was due only once a settlement agreement was signed.
But the council responded saying it would extend the deadline to yesterday, after which High Court proceedings would resume.
Yesterday, a delegation from the trust met Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and handed over the cheque, along with a settlement agreement for the council to sign.
Trust chairman Neville Baker said the meeting went well, and the trust was looking forward to developing a positive working relationship with the council.
Because it was the birthday of the marae’s kohanga reo (Maori immersion preschool) a child handed over the cheque, Mr Baker said.
“It just seemed appropriate to do that. It extends the peace and goodwill.”
He hoped the council would sign the settlement agreement, and that the organisations could share both waka in the future.
“We would want to have a situation where both waka are accessible by all parties, and that’s where we’re heading.”
Ms Wade-Brown said the payment was a good outcome, that helped everyone avoid costly High Court proceedings.
“Arguments and disagreement about the ownership and care of Te Raukura have dogged the council for 22 years… This settlement means the number of waka in the wider Wellington area will increase and is the best outcome for all parties. I look forward to working positively with Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika in the future.”
The council had not signed the settlement agreement yesterday.