Iwi reaches settlement after 15 years

Chris Finlayson
Chris Finlayson

A small Far North iwi has reached a settlement with the Crown almost 15 years after negotiations began.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson and Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa signed the Deed of Settlement which gives the iwi ownership of the 2275ha Stony Creek Station and $6.2 million in cash.

It also includes an apology from the Crown for historical grievances.

It was a sometimes fraught negotiation process partly because of competing claims over the land, especially Stony Creek Station.

In 2007, Treaty Minister Sir Michael Cullen was forced to abandon an attempt to sign the agreement in principle at the remote Taemaro Bay because of angry protests by groups opposed to the signing. That included some from local Ngati Aukiwa hapu which had claimed Stony Creek should be returned to that hapu alone.

Dr Cullen arrived by helicopter and was flown out again after he was verbally abused and jostled despite efforts to protect him by a group, including MP Shane Jones, his son, Tohe Kleskovic, current MP Kelvin Davis and Rudy Taylor. The signing took place later in Kerikeri.

The iwi of about 2500 is based between the Mangonui and Whangaroa harbours, between Ngati Kahu and Ngapuhi, both of which are yet to reach settlement.

Ngati Kahu refused to take part in the broader settlement for the Muriwhenua iwi groups.

Mr Finlayson said Crown actions in the 1800s and after World War II meant Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa now owned only 3% of its ancestral lands and many had been forced to live away from the area.

As well as taking land in the 1800s, the Crown had taken land occupied by the Navy in World War II and did not return it to the iwi until 1990.

The settlement assets, including the station, will be managed by the iwi trust, the Kahukuraaki Trust, which is named after a tupuna [ancestor] of the iwi.

A total of 3422ha of land will be returned to the iwi including Stony Creek Station, two adjoining blocks and sites of cultural significance such as urupa [burial grounds] and reserves.

Although the original agreement did not include a cash settlement, a $6.2 million amount was agreed on as financial redress because of the Crown's 2007 commitment to maintain the stock and assets on the station in the same condition as in 2007.

Stony Creek was a Landcorp cattle and sheep station which was set aside for use in Treaty settlements. No private land was being used for the settlement and public accessways would not be affected.

- By Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald

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