Whanganui River Treaty settlement, with $30m fund, signed at Ranana marae

News from NZ Government
The Crown and Whanganui Iwi have signed a deed of settlement of the historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of the iwi in relation to the Whanganui River.

The signing took place at Ranana Marae. The Crown was represented by the Minister for Treaty Negotiations Christopher Finlayson, the Minister for Whanau Ora and Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauāuru Tariana Turia, and the Minister for Courts and Member of Parliament for Whanganui Chester Borrows.

“This settlement addresses the grievances of Whanganui Iwi in relation to the Whanganui River,” said Mr Finlayson. “The iwi of the Whanganui River have pursued claims and sought protection of the Whanganui River continually since the 1870s. This is a settlement that is overdue.”

The settlement will establish a new legal framework for the Whanganui River, Te Pā Auroa nā Te Awa Tupua. At the centre of the framework is recognition of the Whanganui River as an integrated whole from the mountains to the sea, known as Te Awa Tupua.

Through the settlement legislation, Te Awa Tupua will be recognised as a legal identity with legal standing, rights and an independent voice. Statutory recognition will also be given to a set of values for Te Awa Tupua, Tupua te Kawa, which reflect the intrinsic attributes of Te Awa Tupua including the relationship of iwi and hapū with the River.

The parts of the bed of the river currently in Crown ownership will be vested in Te Awa Tupua.

The settlement provides for the establishment of the position of Te Pou Tupua, which will be comprised of one Crown appointee and an iwi appointee. Te Pou Tupua will be the “human face” of Te Awa Tupua and advocate on behalf of the river’s interests.

Te Pou Tupua will also be responsible for administering Te Korotete o Te Awa Tupua, a $30 million fund to support initiatives relating to the health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua.

The settlement provides for the development of a long-term strategy, Te Heke Ngahuru ki Te Awa Tupua, through a collaborative, public process involving iwi, local government and the other groups with an interest in the environmental, social, cultural and economic future of the River.

“The Te Awa Tupua framework will bring together the iwi and wider community together and provide a strong foundation for the future health and wellbeing of the river” Mr Finlayson said. “In this regard, I wish to particularly acknowledge the support that has already been provided during the negotiation process from local government, including Horizons and the Whanganui and Ruapehu District Councils, Genesis Energy and other iwi with interests in the Whanganui River catchment.”

Under the Deed of Settlement Whanganui Iwi will receive $80 million as financial redress for the settlement of their historical claims in relation to the Whanganui River and an additional $1 million to support transitional and implementation matters. The Settlement also includes cultural redress which recognises and provides for the relationship of Whanganui iwi with, and their responsibility to, Te Awa Tupua.

“The signing of the Deed of Settlement is a historic day which marks a renewed relationship between Whanganui Iwi and the Crown,” Mr Finlayson said. “The inalienable connection between Whanganui Iwi and the Whanganui River as expressed by the phrase “Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au”, and the recognition of the river as a waterway of national significance to all New Zealanders, is at the core of that relationship.”

It is anticipated that legislation giving effect to the deed of settlement will be introduced by the end of this year.

Copies of the signed Deed of Settlement, Ruruku Whakatupua, are available on the Office of Treaty Settlements’ website www.ots.govt.nz

News release from Maori Party
Māori Party Co-leader and MP for Te Tai Hauāuru Tariana Turia says the Whanganui River Deed of Settlement signing today at Ranana Marae is an historic and significant occasion because it gives Te Awa Tupua, the Whanganui river, its own legal status with rights – and acknowledges its life force and the spiritual and physical relationship with Whanganui iwi.

“The pathway that has led to today’s signing has been long and often painful and difficult for our people. Since the 1840’s our elders most of whom have gone before us – have endured thousands of hours of lobbying, protests, petitions, hui, court hearings and negotiations with local authorities and Governments in a bid to not only stop the destruction of their traditional way of life along the Whanganui river – but also to restore the role of kaitiaki for the iwi and legally recognise the Te Awa Tupua status of the river. Gravel extraction, the clearing of swamps, the draining of rapids, the discharge of waste, the taking of water for electricity, the destruction of pā tuna (eel weirs) to allow steamers to traverse the river destroyed major food sources for our people and contributed to the rapid decline in the health of our river,” says Tariana Turia.

“The signing today signifies a key milestone for Whanganui Māori and the Crown. It means Whanganui iwi can now move forward, together in partnership with local authorities to take care of the river.”

“I mihi to all our ancestors and also to all those in most recent years who have taken up the mantle that has resulted in a durable settlement for our people. I pay tribute to them all for their perseverance and dedication to honour our awa and to give it the due respect it so deserves.”

“Today is a day that I reflect with great respect the words of the late Sir Te Atawhai Archie Taiaroa, former Chair of the Whanganui River Māori Trust Board, who told us that ‘the negotiations will probably be long and complex so I ask we all stay focused, work together and support each other. What we are about to embark on is the fulfilment of the work that our tupuna began all those years ago. Now it is up to us to leave our mokopuna with a legacy that they can be proud of.’”

“Today we have started on that new journey that began with our ancestors – and I feel honoured to have been present at Ranana marae to witness this historic occasion,” says Mrs Turia.

 

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