3 Aug 2010

Second part of Te Urewera report released

7:29 am on 3 August 2010

The Waitangi Tribunal has condemned what it calls one of the grimmest battles of the New Zealand Wars and a failed attempt to grant Maori self-government in its latest findings on Te Urewera.

The inquiry is so big the Tribunal is releasing its results in parts, the second of which - chapters six to 12 - was made public on Monday.

It includes war in Wairoa and Waikaremoana in the mid-1860s and legislative land alienation until 1930.

The Tribunal says it cannot over-emphasise the reprehensible nature of wholesale destruction and killing by the Crown south of Lake Waikaremoana in 1866.

A British officer relished attacking a group of men, women and children who were retreating or defending themselves. At least 40 people were killed and four prisoners summarily executed.

The report says from 1871, the Crown undermined a council of 70 Tuhoe and Ngati Whare chiefs resisting land loss.

But by 1896 the Urewera District Native Reserve Act established self-government and collective tribal control of land, and the tribunal says it is of huge regret that the law failed.

Previous chapters released

The first five chapters released in April this year told how Crown forces acted mercilessly while hunting the messianic leader Te Kooti between 1869 and 1871.

Tuhoe non-combatants were killed and some were believed to have been raped. Homes, food supplies and taonga were destroyed, and a senior officer spoke to his troops of "extermination".

The Tribunal found Te Kooti's earlier attacks justified a military response but that the roots of the fighting were wrongful confiscations, including half of Tuhoe's best land.

At least one more section on Te Urewera is set to be made public.