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Settlement relativity critical say Turanga iwi

Mangatu Remedies Report seen as hugely significant.

Rongowhakaata and Ngai Tāmanuhiri welcome the interim recommendations in the Waitangi Tribunal’s, Mangatu Remedies Report, released late last week.

They say the report signals an opportunity to revise the settlement baseline for resolving treaty breaches for all three Turanga iwi.

“The recommended return of the ownership of 7000 hectares of forest land to the descendants of customary owners is hugely significant for the three Turanga iwi, who share the same history of prejudicial actions by the Crown,” Rongowhakaata Iwi trust chairperson Moera Brown said.

The 7000 hectares of forest land that was alienated from customary owners’ needed to be put into perspective, she said, noting that 1.195 million acres (483,599 hectares) of land was taken as a consequence of the Deed of Cession, the Poverty Bay Land Commission, and the introduction of the Native Land Court.

The land taken was just one of many Treaty of Waitangi breaches by the Crown exacted on Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Ngai Tāmanuhiri between 1865 and 1874.

“This period, marks one of the darkest in our history, occurring only 25 years after our tipuna signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi, at Turanga Koau in Manutuke,” Ms Brown said.

That history includes the Crown’s attack on Waerenga a Hika, in 1865, the deportation and detainment of 123 prisoners on Wharekauri (the Chatham Islands) without charge or trial and the execution of between 86 and 128 unarmed prisoners at Ngatapa Pa in 1868, again without charge or trial.

“Adding insult to injury, Crown agents, acting without legal authority, confiscated the property rights of hundreds of Turanga Maori ‘alleged’ to be rebels,” she said.

“All Turanga iwi have suffered and all of us have been impacted by these blatant acts of aggression underscored by the settler government’s agenda to discredit our tipuna and acquire Turanga land, at whatever cost,” Ms Brown said.

Settlement based on agreed percentage split

Rongowhakaata, Ngai Tāmanuhiri and Te Aitanga a Mahaki entered into good faith negotiations with the Crown between 2005 and 2006 in trialling the Crown’s new “large natural groupings settlement” approach.

“A new feature of the approach was the agreement between the Turanga iwi claimants, and the Crown to adopt the ‘relativity’ percentages, recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal,” said Pauline Hill, chair of the Tāmanuhiri Tutu Poroporo Trust, the settlement trust for Ngai Tāmanuhiri.

The relativity percentages were 46 percent for the Te Aitanga a Mahaki cluster; 36 percent for Rongowhakaata and 18 percent for Ngai Tāmanuhiri.

Ms Hill, a former negotiator for Ngai Tāmanuhiri, said, “Ngai Tāmanuhiri and Rongowhakaata relied heavily on the Waitangi Tribunal relativity percentages, as our bottom line for settling, appreciating that Mahaki would receive, approximately $50 million, the largest share of the $100m settlement quantum, offered at the time.

“We understood that the Crown were also relying on those percentages to get Ngai Tāmanuhiri and Rongowhakaata over the line and willing to settle. The Crown were in a hurry to settle and the percentage splits between the three Turanga iwi, was consistent with their negotiating principles, of acting in good faith, offering ‘just redress’ and ensuring fairness between claimants would be maintained.”

All three iwi were advised of their settlement quantum based on the agreed percentage split of $100m, said Ms Hill.

“Mahaki’s share was estimated at $50m, Rongowhakaata $36-$38m and Ngai Tāmanuhiri $12-$14m.

The Crown’s quantum model considers factors such as land loss, seriousness of Treaty breaches and existing benchmarks with other similar settlements. Rongowhakaata and Ngai Tāmanuhiri believe that these factors need to be consistently applied and reflected in settlement offers to all three Turanga iwi.

“The Crown is obliged to ensure just redress and fairness between Turanga iwi claimants, and therefore it needs to revisit and revise the settlement offers to Rongowhakaata and Ngai Tāmanuhiri, to ensure relativity is maintained”, said Moera Brown the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust chair.

“While the Crown may argue that they have settled the Ngai Tāmanuhiri and Rongowhakaata historical Treaty claims, our assertion is that under the terms of our original engagement with the Crown, to settle all three Turanga iwi as a large natural grouping, a full and final settlement cannot be completed until the Crown has presented a full and final settlement offer, that maintains ‘relativity amongst our iwi,” Ms Hill said.

“There is much work to be done moving forward,” said Moera Brown.

“We acknowledge the ongoing work of the people of Te Aitanga ā Māhaki, Ngāriki/Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi and Te Whanau ā Kai.

“As we move forward, Rongowhakaata will be focused firmly on our future — one that supports the return of vitality to our community, enhances our unique cultural identity and abundance, and strengthens our relationships with each other. To do this, we need to share the benefits of a just and fair settlement that retains the ‘relativity that we, Tūranga Iwi, and the Crown signed up to.”

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