Iwi will be largest forest landowner

Supporters listen to the first reading of the Central North Island Forests Collective Settlement Bill
Supporters listen to the first reading of the Central North Island Forests Collective Settlement Bill
A collective of seven central North Island iwi will become the largest single forestry landowner in New Zealand under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement signed with the Crown.

The settlement, know as Treelord, transfers 176,000 hectares of state-owned forest worth more than $400 million in land and rentals.

It is the biggest Treaty settlement in history, and Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen says it paves the way for finalising other claims.

Dr Cullen signed the agreement in Parliament yesterday with Ngati Tuhoe, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Whakaue, Ngati Whare, Ngati Manawa, Raukawa and the affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu.

A few hours later, iwi representatives packed Parliament's public galleries as MPs voted unanimously to pass the first reading of a bill that will enact the settlement.

MPs from all parties praised the iwi negotiators and Dr Cullen for finalising the Treelord claim.

National's Georgina te Heuheu said the injustice went back several generations, and the ramifications of the settlement would flow on to future generations.

The forest lands are to be managed by the collective, which is setting up a holding company and management structure.

Prime Minister Helen Clark described the settlement as an historic journey, while Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu said significant assets were being returned to central North Island iwi.

Treaty settlements

These settlements seem to be going on forever. At a time when the New Zealand economy is struggling is it wise to be giving almost half a billion dollars worth of assets to address "past injustices" which in no way reflect the modern way New Zealanders live. When do the sons stop paying for there fathers sins? Will the Scottish be asking the English for recompense? How far back is deemed acceptable?

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