NEWS: Historic settlement welcomed

5 November 2021

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen has welcomed a historic deed of settlement between Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua and the Crown signed last week.

The $115 million settlement includes an agreed historical account, Crown acknowledgements and apology, cultural redress, and financial and commercial reparation.

The package includes $93m originally agreed to in 2018 by the Waitangi Tribunal, and will give iwi the chance to purchase Crown-owned properties.

The rohe (area) Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua (Dannevirke) covers runs from north of Dannevirke to the Remutaka Range. According to the 2013 Census, it has about 12,000 members.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said the settlement acknowledged the injustices of the Crown’s past acts and omissions that resulted in the alienation of iwi members from their culture, language and land.

A significant part of the redress relates to Wairarapa Moana (Lake Wairarapa), and its wetlands and conservation land. Part of the lake bed and two sites of cultural significance will be jointly vested as a reserve for the iwi and the region’s other major iwi, Rangitāne o Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua. The vesting and gift back of Castlepoint Scenic Reserve is also part of the settlement.

Mayor Beijen said the settlement went in some small way towards acknowledging what the iwi had lost.

“In the 1840s Ngāti Kahungunu welcomed settlers to Wairarapa and Tamaki nui-ā-Rua (Dannevirke) and there were good trading relations between them.

“But as time wore on the iwi was forced to give up much of their land, and the lake, which was given as a chiefly gift to the Crown in 1896, is in poor condition.

“It is to be hoped that by more strongly prioritising the welfare of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-a-Rua, the welfare of both people and the lake can be improved.”

The deed says that in the decades after settlers arrived, the Crown forced Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-a-Rua to cede or sell tens of thousands of acres through forfeiture and later the Native Land Court. The Crown also acknowledged it had failed to follow through on land-for-koha arrangements and to protect te reo (the Māori language) in schools.

In 1896, in an effort to protect Lake Wairarapa, the iwi gifted the lake to the Crown. But instead of the lakeside reserves the Crown promised in exchange, it provided a reserve many years later at Pouākani, hundreds of kilometres away. This separated many of the iwi’s whānau from their families and traditional homes.

The Crown apologised for failing to stop Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-a-Rua from becoming virtually landless, making it difficult for the iwi to maintain its traditional communities, and protect its culture and language.


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