28 Jan 2012

Iwi signs off Treaty settlement, while another discusses their deal

8:05 am on 28 January 2012

Saturday is an historic day for the Aupouri people of the Far North, with the iwi being the first of the Muriwhenua tribes to sign off on a Treaty settlement with the Crown.

Another iwi, Te Rarawa, has begun a series of hui to decide whether to accept their proposed Treaty settlement.

Te Aupouri rangatira will sign their deed of settlement with the Treaty Negotiations Minister, Chris Finlayson, in a ceremony at Potahi marae in Te Kao.

Te Aupouri is one of the five iwi whose land claims were lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal in 1987, by the late Tai Tokerau leader, Matiu Rata.

The Tribunal upheld the claim ten years later, but settlement was delayed as the iwi pursued separate settlements involving many assets claimed in common, including the Aupouri forest and Ninety Mile Beach.

Potahi marae was the scene of the first Tribunal hearing of the massive claim in 1990.

Te Aupouri will receive $21 million in compensation from the Crown - enough to buy back two Landcorp farms and other property in the poverty-stricken area.

It will also gain the right to administer Ninety Mile Beach in a joint arrangement with the other iwi, and local councils.

Three of the four other Muriwhenua tribes are also moving towards settlement.

But Ngati Kahu, led by Margaret Mutu, has abandoned negotiations and gone back to the Tribunal to ask it to order the return of lands taken by the Crown.

Te Rararawa discuss their Treaty claim

Te Rarawa is the largest of the five Muriwhenua tribes, and stands to gain nearly $34 million, along with Crown assets including two Landcorp farms, in a deal that's taken 10 years to negotiate.

The iwi will also gain the right to administer Ninety Mile Beach and some conservation land, in a joint arrangement with other Muriwhenua tribes, and local councils.

Te Rarawa's chairman, Haami Piripi, says it's become apparent at hui this week that some whanau fear the settlement will compromise the Maori sovereignty claim.

Far North iwi, including Ngapuhi, say they did not cede sovereignty to the Crown when they signed the Treaty.

But Mr Piripi says the sovereignty claim relates to the Declaration of Independence of 1835, and the proposed Te Rarawa settlement is for grievances arising after 1840, when the treaty was signed.

He says ratifying the settlement will not stop iwi from pursuing the sovereignty claim or the issue of un-extinguished native title.

Mr Piripi says Te Rarawa's ratification hui will continue over the coming weeks, ending in the Far North in late February.