Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga are a step closer to adopting their Maori names following the signing of a significant Far North Treaty settlement.
Northland iwi Te Aupouri signed the $21 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown in Te Kao yesterday, bringing a Far North collective deal closer.
An eventual collective settlement will include Maori guardianship of Ninety Mile Beach, alongside Northland Regional Council authorities.
The deal also opens the door to 25 name changes, including dual names for Ninety Mile Beach (Te Oneroa a Tohe) and Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua).
Te Oneroa a Tohe translates to "the lengthy beach of Tohe", referring to a revered ancestor of the region.
Far North iwi have previously said using the indigenous names will add authenticity to tourists' experience.
Iwi groups can apply to change the iconic names with the Geographic Board only once the final collective agreement becomes law.
Te Aupouri is the first of four Far North iwi – which also include Te Rarawa, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri – to reach a settlement with the Crown over historical grievances.
Haami Piripi, who is negotiating the collective agreement, hopes the final settlement will be signed this year.
"It will be a shot in the arm for the economy.
"It will make the iwi the biggest farmers, fishers and foresters in the area.
"It will place us at the forefront of the primary industries. That will lead to training and job opportunities."
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson agreed the settlement will lay a foundation for Northland's economic and social success.
"This is a significant milestone to right the wrongs of the past in one of the most deprived areas of New Zealand."
The Collective Deed of Settlement offers a redress package of $76 million and includes the return of Aupouri Peninsula forestry land.
Finlayson said the agreement between the iwi, Crown and local authorities will enhance conservation at the iconic sites in the Far North.
"The government is committed to reaching just and durable comprehensive settlements to right the wrongs of the past.
"This is a major step forward in concluding settlements in Northland and New Zealand as a whole."
More than 95% of the Te Aupouri community supported the first of the Treaty deals.
Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto are also in the final stages of reaching a Treaty settlement with the Crown.
Ngati Kahu left the collective negotiations last year and is seeking a separate redress from the Crown.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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