North Island iwi's $32m Treaty of Waitangi settlement concludes
A major Treaty of Waitangi settlement has been finalised during an emotional ceremony at Parliament.
The Rangitane Tu Mai Ra (Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua) Claims Settlement Bill passed its third and final reading, marking the end of a process dating back to the 1980s.
The settlement, including about $32.5 million, covers the second-largest geographical area of any Treaty deal so far, and provides acknowledgements, apologies and redress for past breaches.
The redress sites span the region from north of Dannevirke, down to Turakirae (Cape Palliser) and includes the wider Wairarapa and Tamaki nui-a-Rua regions.
Negotiator and trustee Mavis Mullins said the settlement was a landmark occasion.
"It's an exciting time. If we cast our mind back, when was the last time an asset of this size was available for the growth and wellbeing of the area?"
Although she wouldn't single out specific ways the money would be spent, Mullins said the iwi already had access to about $10m, and plans were being put in place for its use.
Additionally, a commercial board was in the process of being appointed.
"The worst thing is to rush," Mullins said.
"Due diligence will be undertaken, and the investments will be very well considered. We'd love to invest in opportunities bringing about the wealth and wellbeing not just of Rangitane, but for the people of the region."
Along with Rangitane's settlement, a third reading of Ngati Pukenga's settlement bill was also held.
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson said the occasion marked a further step forward in the Government's progress on Treaty issues.
"The Government is committed to concluding Treaty settlements with all willing and able iwi, and is making excellent progress," he said.
Rangitane's first deed of settlement with the Crown was signed at a ceremony in Dannevirke last year.
Mullins said the process had been a hard slog, but one that shone a light on the iwi's history.
"It's been a rigorous and robust process to go through," Mullins said.
"It's been onerous, but at the end people have a much better understanding of our history.
"Going through school, people often learn a lot about American and European history, but not so much our own. This process has enabled a real uncovering of our past."