Taranaki iwi sign settlement: maunga, and park to be recognised as a person

6:07 pm on 1 September 2023
Taranaki Maunga today.

Taranaki Maunga and the national park it stands within has been legally designated as a person named 'Te Kāhui Tupua', and will effectively own itself. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Taranaki iwi and the Crown have signed a redress deal, addressing historic injustices and recognising the importance of Mount Taranaki to the tangata whenua.

The deed recognised the Crown had breached of the Treaty of Waitangi in relation to Taranaki Maunga, including by confiscating almost half a million hectares (1.2 million acres) of Taranaki lands.

The national park that contains Taranaki Maunga and surrounding peaks, which is currently called Egmont National Park, will be renamed Te Papa-Kura-o-Taranaki, which means 'the highly regarded and treasured lands of Taranaki'.

The park and its contents will be vested as a legal person, named 'Te Kāhui Tupua' - so the park will effectively own itself. But its interests will be represented by Te Tōpuni Kōkōrangi, a collection of both iwi and Crown appointees.

Ngā Iwi o Taranaki and the Crown signed the Taranaki Maunga Collective Redress Deed, which is named Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo, at Owae marae in Waitara, on Friday.

Ngā Iwi o Taranaki is made up of the eight Taranaki iwi which represent about 60,000 members, covering the entire region: Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga, Taranaki Iwi, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Maru, Ngāruahine, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi.

Iwi named the deed Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo to reflect its intention; 'a commitment to bring about harmony or balance'.

Watch a haka pōwhiri prepared for the event:

It was an important step forward fo the region, the country and the crown, Treaty of Waitangi negotiations minister Andrew Little said.

"This is a very significant day, especially for Ngā Iwi o Taranaki, towards ultimately recognising their maunga in law as a person, a tūpuna, and as an indivisible and living being," Little said.

"Like the Taranaki proverb says: 'Taranaki Maunga, Taranaki Tangata - Taranaki is the Mountain and Taranaki are the people'.

"We all have a collective responsibility to actively protect the well-being of Te Kāhui Tupua and ensure the area and the people thrive."

The Department of Conservation will continue to manage the renamed park, Te Papa-Kura-o-Taranaki, and the National Parks Act 1980, still applies.

This was the 100th deed signed since Treaty of Waitangi negotiations began, Little said. It was expected to be the final redress deed for the region.

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