'Community will also benefit...'

WIKITORIA KEENAN
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2012

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Today, a significant milestone will be achieved when Te Atiawa and the Crown sign an agreement in principle.

Although this is not settlement, it is a major milestone in terms of settling Te Atiawa's historical Treaty of Waitangi claim because it provides the foundation of and paves the way for settlement.

So what will settlement of the Treaty claim mean for Te Atiawa?

Settlement redress will restore Te Atiawa to a position of influence and authority within the community and provide Te Atiawa with resources to determine its own development and destiny.

This consists of two major aspects. The first is the Te Atiawa tribal identity. Te Atiawa is unique and it is our tribal identity which makes us unique.

In a questionnaire in 2010, members identified enhancing Te Atiawa culture and identity as the two most important aspirations post settlement.

The other aspect is economic. Settlement will provide resources to create and build a platform for economic growth.

Economic growth will primarily benefit Te Atiawa members, but the Taranaki community will also benefit because Te Atiawa will contribute to the local community and economy through investment and the purchase of services and payment of rates and taxes.

There are two things settlement will not do. It will not end the grievance or provide justice. Nothing can ever do that.

The intensity of our history and the grievance may fade with each generation, but it will always be remembered.

It should be because both are important aspects of the Te Atiawa fabric and identity.

Settlement will not provide an alternative social-welfare system.

Te Atiawa members, as New Zealand citizens, are entitled to the same privileges and rights as other citizens (Treaty of Waitangi, article 3).

Sure, there will be assistance for members, such as education grants, but there is no intention to duplicate government responsibility.

Although today will be a significant day for Te Atiawa and a step closer to achieving its negotiations mantra, raupatu - redress - restoration, it should also be considered a significant day for the Taranaki community.

Wikitoria Keenan is chairwoman of Te Atiawa Iwi Authority.

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