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Historic journey

Ngati Porou is set to gain legal customary title over the East Coast foreshore and seabed.

The Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill receives its third and final reading in Parliament this afternoon and is set to become a milestone piece of legislation — the first of its kind.

Representatives of the Crown and many hapu of Ngati Porou will today sign the Whakamana Accord and Relationship Instruments set out in the amended deed and witness the Third Reading of the Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill (No.2).

An historic and unique occasion, several hundred members of nga hapu o Ngati Porou will be present to mark the day and honour those pakeke who started the journey but have since passed on.

Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou chairman Selwyn Parata says the passage of the bill is the culmination of 16 years of negotiation with the Crown, which stemmed from the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act in 2004.

“Ngati Porou mana over many of its coastal areas has been constant and undisrupted,” he said. “But when we saw the harsh legislation taking shape in 2003 we decided to take matters into our own hands.”

The large majority of Ngati Porou hapu have ratified a Deed of Agreement with the Government to exercise a range of planning, decision-making and participatory roles related to the foreshore and seabed.

Others are still to decide whether to join while two hapu are seeking their own arrangements with the Crown.

Mr Parata acknowledged the efforts of the many kaumaatua, negotiators and supporters that enabled the deed and legislation to come to fruition.

He paid special tribute to the late Dr Apirana Mahuika, who led Ngati Porou’s tribal authority and foreshore negotiations up to his passing in 2015.

“We have completed the last major undertaking Uncle Api initiated and led for his iwi. Today we remember him and the many other kaumaatua who have passed on since we started this journey.”

Ngati Porou representatives also acknowledged the ministers and officials they worked with on the deed and the bill.

“We have been fortunate to have three outstanding ministers to work with from both sides of the political spectrum.

“Hon Sir Michael Cullen, Hon Chris Finlayson and Hon Andrew Little ensured the Crown stayed the course.

“We have reached this milestone in no small part due to the leadership they’ve shown within Cabinet and caucus.”

The bill will come into force the day after it receives the Royal Assent (ie, is signed by the Governor-General).

“This is expected to be within a few days of the Third Reading.

Through their management trusts, the hapu will then undertake their various planning and other tasks under the deed and legislation to give effect to their takutai rights and responsibilities.

The path from bill into lawThe passage of the The Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill into law marks the end of 16 years negotiation between Ngati Porou and the Crown.

Original discussions started in 2003 with the Labour Government led by the Right Honourable Helen Clark. Terms of Negotiation were signed in 2004. Negotiations took place over the next four years.

The Deed of Agreement between Ngati Porou hapu and the Crown was signed at Parliament on October 31, 2008, by 48 hapu representatives and the Crown.

The Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill was introduced soon after to give effect to the original deed. The progress of the bill was delayed, however, by the 2008 general election and the change in government.

The National-led coalition government reviewed and eventually replaced the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 with the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. The Crown and Te Runanganui, on behalf of nga hapu o Ngati Porou, negotiated changes to the original deed to reflect the change in the law and in Crown policy.

It was agreed that any amendments to the original deed had to be formally ratified by the hapu. The ratification decisions taken by the hapu would also include proposed Management Arrangements (ie, the trusts through which hapu will exercise their rights and duties under the deed).

Information was widely circulated and hapu information hui and formal ratification hui were held in the first half of 2017.

The result of the ratification process was, from a total of 57 hapu, 49 agreed to receive the ratification presentation; 8 were not ready to receive the ratification presentation at that time.

Of the 49 hapu who did receive the ratification presentation, 47 approved and ratified the Deed to Amend, and 46 also ratified the management trust arrangements, while 2 decided against joining the amended deed.

Ratification results showed that a large majority of hapu were in favour of the deed and that more might join the deed in the future. Those results were reported to the ministers for Treaty of Waitangi negotiations and Maori development, who agreed the deed could proceed to legislation.

In August 2017, the Deed to Amend was signed by the ministers and signatories on behalf of the hapu and/or management trusts.

A revised bill was prepared to give effect to the Deed to Amend and replace the original bill introduced in 2008. The replacement bill — the current bill — has been through the select committee process and was today ready to be read a third and final time.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Today marks the completion of a major milestone for many hapu, or sub-tribes, of Ngati Porou. They will secure customary title over the East Coast foreshore and seabed through the Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill, which receives its third and final reading in Parliament today. A contingent of Ngati Porou whanau travelled to Wellington yesterday morning for the occasion. Picture by Liam Clayton