King Country iwi take a step towards settlement

10:35 am on 13 October 2016

The Ngāti Maniapoto treaty settlement is tipped to be as large as those of Waikato and Ngāi Tahu, but whether it gets past first base will depend on the Maniapoto Māori Trust board securing a mandate.

The Treaty Settlements process isn't for the faint hearted as the Maniapoto Māori Trust Board are finding out during a roadshow to secure a mandate from the people.

Te Nehenehe nui, a covenant drafted and signed by leaders in 1904 which bound all Maniapoto hapū together as one.

Te Nehenehe nui, a covenant drafted and signed by leaders in 1904 which bound all Maniapoto hapū together as one. Photo: Supplied

Ngāti Maniapoto is the tribe named after the son of Rereahu, a direct desendant of Hoturoa, Captain of the Tainui Waka.

Ngāti Maniapoto researcher and tribal member Paul Meredith said when it came to Rereahu passing on his mantle, he bestowed it on his second son Maniapoto, not his first born Te Ihingaarangi.

At the recent hui some decendants of Ihingaarangi and Rereahu have claimed Maniapoto is not their iwi and say they want to settle with the Crown alone.

Mr Meredith has looked into the historical records and hopes to share his findings at a meeting tonight in Wellington.

"I think that's a misinterpretation of the history because we know that Rereahu gave the mana to Maniapoto, that's well recorded. All the siblings bar Te Ihingaarangi subscribed to that and of course we know what happened to Te Ihingaarangi he tried to take his brother Maniapoto on and was defeated.

"So that's not to open old wounds ... because eventually peace was made, but the fact was that Maniapoto was regarded as the mana and from there all the siblings took the wider tribal identity of Maniapoto."

Te Maru o Rereahu Iwi Trust (TMORIT) is the mandated authority to negotiate a settlement of Ngati Rereahu Treaty grievances with the Crown.

In a statement, the Trust said it was encouraging members to oppose the mandate strategy as it included Rereahu Hapu, Marae and Wai Claims, without Rereahu consent.

It said it also disputed the claimant community definition in the mandate strategy which incorrectly lists Rereahu as a hapu of Maniapoto.

"Rereahu was the father of Maniapoto and acknowledged by Rereahu people as their eponymous ancestor."

Ngati Maniapoto's rohe map, showing their tribal boundaries.

Ngati Maniapoto's rohe map, showing their tribal boundaries. Photo: Supplied

The Crown will only deal with large natural groupings, or iwi, and Maniapoto Māori Board trustee Hayley Putaranui said that meant there was only one settlement for Ngāti Maniapoto.

She said that was causing problems.

"Yeah there are issues one of the principal issues is are we opposed to a hapū settlement. People are feeling like we're forcing them into a process they're feeling like, 'Why can't I have my own settlement?"

Ngāti Maniapoto elder Tom Roa points to Te Nehenehe nui, a covenant drafted and signed by leaders in 1904 which bound all Maniapoto hapū together as one.

"They put their signatures to this document so that ties me in because my tupuna signed that document, with all those tupuna at that time, so I am part of that grouping."

Ngāti Maniapoto elder Dr Tom Roa.

Tom Roa said a covenant from 1904 bound all Maniapoto hapū together as one. Photo: Supplied

Dr Roa said the covenant, which was created more than a century ago, was because hapū were at odds with each other - similar to what the iwi is experiencing again today.

He said the covenant was drafted with the purpose of uniting the iwi and its many hapū.

"There appears to be today an understanding or misundestaing that if you are a hapū you are less than iwi but the iwi can't exist without its hapū and so therefore to my mind there is an expectation that hapū will work with other hapū for the good of the iwi."

Ngāti Maniapoto is the country's fifth largest iwi and at the heart of its claim will be the impact of opening up the King Country in 1885 to the main trunk line.

Dr Meredith said Maniapoto leaders knew the Crown was coming.

"After they had seen what happened earlier at Parihaka and the Waikato invasions so they allowed the building of the railway with certain terms attached.

"And so when they eventually do allow for ... the main trunk line to come through their lands, they say 'Yep, you can come through, but don't look to the left or the right', i.e. don't look at our land to the side just take this strip for your railway."

But soon after the rail came, so too did the Native Land Court.

It was set up to individualise Māori land title to break down customary ownership and make it easier to aleinate Māori land and access Māori land."

Last year former Wananga CEO Dr Rongo Wetere called for the iwi to ditch the Waitangi Tribunal claim for a High Court prosecution, which he claimed would achieve a quantum settlement.

Dr Roa prefers to use former settlements as a guide.

"We know that in any deal done with the Crown we will be underdone we know that and we recognise that with all of the settlements of Maori raupatu or other grienvences there is no way we want to bankrupt the country and should we try to settle for more than that one to two percent we will bankrupt the country"

There are 35,000 Ngāti Maniapoto members and the consultation round winds up next week at Te Kuiti Pā.