Bright future ahead
Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust Board secretary Marama Royal sees a bright future for her iwi. It's 34 years since the occupation of Bastion Point or Takaparawhau and her people have been pushing for a treaty settlement acknowledging grievances dating back to 1851 ever since.
Mrs Royal took her 9-year-old daughter Maia to Wellington to witness the third and final reading of the Ngati Whatua Orakei Claims Settlement Bill.
"It was about acknowledging our whanau, our uncles and aunties and grandparents who began this journey for us and are not here today to see the fruits of our labour."
The bill will pass into law on February 1. It includes a Crown apology, an Agreed Historical Account, and a cultural and commercial redress.
The Crown admits it "profoundly regrets and is deeply sorry for its actions that left Ngati Whatua Orakei virtually landless by 1855.
"This state of landlessness has had devastating consequences for the social, economic and spiritual wellbeing of Ngati Whatua Orakei that continue to be felt today."
Mrs Royal says: "To me it was a really genuine apology.
"We never gave away land. It was koha, given on the understanding it would eventually be returned to Ngati Whatua Orakei.
"We are the kaitiaki, guardians of our land."
The treaty settlement "doesn't replace all that we've lost but we want to move on", she says.
The cultural redress will include the return of the 33-hectare Pourewa Reserve in Orakei.
"There are some very significant archaeological sites in Pourewa. The land is going to be co-managed with Auckland Council and we will be developing a Reserve Management Plan," she says.
Trustee member Ngarimu Blair says: "Ngati Whatua Orakei looks forward to managing this land for public benefit and enjoyment and intends consulting the St Heliers Bay Pony Club and wider community on its future use."
The settlement also acknowledges Ngati Whatua Orakei's cultural interests in Kauri Point and its purchase of 99 Owens Rd, Epsom. There are plans to develop that site into a boarding hostel for Maori students who attend Auckland Grammar School and Epsom Girls Grammar School.
The commercial redress includes $16 million in cash and approximately $1 million in interest. This will go towards purchasing 28 hectares of New Zealand Defence Force land on the North Shore.
Ms Royal feels privileged to be part of the Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust Board which was elected in 2010 to negotiate the final stages of the settlement process.
"The first thing we did as a board was develop a very robust, forward-thinking strategic plan. It details our priorities and the action plan behind how we want to achieve those aims.
"Our main focus is around whanau, our marae, housing, health, education, sport and cultural activities." The future is exciting and full of opportunities, she says.
"We've got a lot of work to do. Our long-term vision is to get to the point where our great-great-grandchildren are able to live the dream that we set now.
"We don't want to offer handouts, we want to provide hand-ups. We want to be visionary," she says.
East And Bays Courier