Deals will end long fight by local iwi

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 14:21 08/12/2012

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Two top of the south iwi will end decades of negotiations with the Crown with historic settlements to be signed before Christmas.

Te Atiawa and Ngati Koata are scheduled to sign their deeds of settlement with the Crown on Friday, December 21.

Ngati Koata will sign its settlement at Nelson's Whakatu Marae in the morning. It expects to host 300 guests for the occasion.

Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu will follow. It plans to hold its signing at Waikawa Marae in Picton that afternoon.

The two Treaty of Waitangi settlements have been valued at $11.7 million each.

Porirua-based Ngati Toa Rangitira, which also has connections to the top of the south, signed its deed of settlement yesterday.

The settlements will contain a Crown apology acknowledging the breaches against the iwi, and will provide cultural and commercial redress elements.

The path to the signings was cleared last month after Wakatu Incorporation came to an agreement with the Crown that it would pursue its Wai 56 claim without stalling top of the south Treaty settlement negotiations.

Each iwi will receive cash and property. As part of the cultural redress, several placenames will be changed. For example, Queen Charlotte Sound will be altered to Queen Charlotte Sound/Totaranui.

It could be another year until the iwi receive their financial compensation, as each settlement has to be passed as an act of Parliament.

A spokesman for Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said the Crown wanted to progress the legislation for Ngati Toa, the three Kurahaupo iwi, and the Tainui Taranaki iwi together once the deeds were signed, which should be early next year.

He said how soon the legislation would be passed by Parliament depended on a number of factors, but this year the House had passed a number of settlement bills in less than a year.

Ngati Koata general manager Frans van Boekhout said that realistically, it would be early 2014 before the assets were handed back to all top of the south iwi.

Mr van Boekhout said Ngati Koata had purchased some Crown forests and had been given the right to purchase other properties. The school sites would continue to be leased to the Ministry of Education.

Ngati Koata trustee Roma Hippolite said the signing would be a "significant" and happy day, and would represent a milestone of being recognised for past injustices.

He said it had taken a long time for the iwi to be heard and to have a tribunal find that injustices against it did take place.

Mr Hippolite said the payout in today's terms represented about two or three cents on the dollars lost.

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He said the iwi had been told that it was a full and final settlement and that the Crown could not afford to give the iwi any more, but the Crown had bailed out private investors like South Canterbury Finance since starting negotiations with the iwi.

"We are accepting it and getting on with life, but we will remind both the government of the day and anyone in New Zealand society, if they think this is fair when the Government can bail any number of companies any time they want to, then we've got a sorry view of what's fair in our country."

He said few of the original claimants were still alive, but the descendants of the trustees who signed the claim form were still alive.

Mr Hippolite said that if it had not been for Wakatu Incorporation pursuing the Wai 56 claim, the iwi could have signed a settlement halfway through last year.

The settlements would be a useful injection into the top of the south's economy, he said.

"It will be good for everybody."

TREATY SETTLEMENTS

Commercial redress Ngati Koata $11.7 million, less the value of transferred properties and land And the right to purchase Crown property: Hira Forest Waimea Forest Nayland College site Maitai School site Stoke police station Te Atiawa $11.7 million, less the value of transferred properties and land And the right to purchase Crown property: Rai Forest Golden Downs West Queen Charlotte Forest Picton police station Nelson Army Drill Hall DOC Motueka area office Golden Bay High School site.

- The Nelson Mail

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