Two Taranaki iwi will take a significant step towards finalising their treaty settlements in Wellington today.
Representatives from Ngaruahine and Te Atiawa iwi will attend a ceremony at Parliament to initial deeds of settlements, following treaty negotiations with the Crown.
South Taranaki's Ngaruahine, under the leadership of chief negotiator Daisy Noble, will sign off their treaty deal package worth $67.5 million.
Te Atiawa Iwi Authority chairwoman Wikitoria Keenan said today's ceremony marked a significant step forward.
"I think it's quite exciting to get near the end of the road," she said.
For the people of Te Atiawa, the deal represented a total package of $91m, which includes a $1m cultural fund and an accrued interest payment of $3m.
Another significant part of the settlement deals with the future of the Waitara endowment land block.
Te Atiawa Iwi Authority negotiator Peter Moeahu said the deal provided an option to the iwi to purchase the land if it decided to do so.
"We have not forgotten the importance of this land, but we have a duty to make sure what we do does not disadvantage Te Atiawa," he said.
Moeahu and Keenan said the iwi remained committed to working with the council and the leaseholders on the issue.
Te Atiawa will also have the opportunity to buy residential, commercial and industrial properties owned by the Crown in New Plymouth, including the Barrett St hospital. (See earlier story, Page 4).
Keenan said she was excited about the commercial potential the settlement created for Te Atiawa.
"It represents an opportunity for development and to move into the future," Keenan said.
Both Moeahu and Keenan said although there had been several challenges throughout the negotiation process, they had tried to represent the interests of the iwi as a whole.
The settlement will also include an apology from the Crown, which is likely to be personally delivered by the Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson at a ceremony on August 9.
Included in the apology is an acknowledgement of the impact land confiscation had on the iwi and the role of the Crown in Taranaki's land wars.
It also will apologise for the "unconscionable actions" at Parihaka and for the damage this caused to the community.
Te Atiawa's settlement will be the highest of any Taranaki iwi and was the fifth biggest in the country.
Moeahu said once the settlement deed is initialled, hui will be held throughout New Zealand for the deal to be presented to its iwi membership which totals about 9000 people.
Members will then vote on the deal, with the ballot results passed onto the Minister who will make the final decision about whether settlement will proceed.
"We are very confident that once our people realise what has been achieved on their behalf, they will support the settlement," said Keenan.
A Ngaruahine contingent from Hawera also travelled down to the capital this morning to witness the ceremony . Daisy Noble said the settlement offered a chance for the wrongs to be put right for the iwi.
"I see it as addressing those historical grievances and being able to have our Ngaruahine story told," she said.
Noble said the proposed date for its full and final settlement to be signed off was August 1.
Another of the eight iwi around the mountain, Taranaki iwi, had been on track to initial their treaty settlement but are still negotiating over the provision for support for Parihaka.
- Taranaki Daily News