31 Aug 2012

Iwi to sign treaty giving rights to islands, haka

6:14 am on 31 August 2012

A lower North Island iwi is poised to sign a major treaty settlement that will give it rights to Mana and Kapiti islands and recognise its connection to the haka Ka Mate.

Porirua-based iwi Ngati Toa on Thursday initialed the redress offer from the Crown worth more than $75 million.

The settlement package would give Ngati Toa rights to Kapiti and Mana islands, Taputeranga Island in Wellington's Island Bay, and acknowledge the iwi as the kaitiaki (guardian) of Cook Strait.

As part of the agreement, the Crown will introduce unique legislation to recognise the iwi's ancestral chief Te Rauparaha as the composer of Ka Mate, meaning any time the haka is used in an advertisement or film it will have to be attributed to him.

"It's an important cultural taonga of Ngati Toa," iwi executive director Matiu Rei says. "I don't think it's going to affect the people of New Zealand all that much but it makes a world of difference to us."

Minister for Treaty Negotations Chris Finlayson says the land in the package - particularly Kapiti Island - and the haka are extremely important in the history of Ngati Toa.

He says the iwi has been fighting long and hard over the last 25 years to get to this settlement. Mr Finlayson says the deed will be signed in October.