First visit by PM marks new ac­cord

Raukawa wel­comed the Prime Min­is­ter to their rohe for the first time on Thurs­day as the iwi and Crown signed high-level agree­ments of co­op­er­a­tion. South Waikato News edi­tor Mathew Grocott re­ports on the day

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE -

Un­til Fri­day no New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter had been wel­comed onto a Raukawa marae.

But John Key’s visit last week to Papa O Te Aroha Marae in Toko­roa marked a new era of part­ner­ship be­tween Raukawa and the Crown.

Mr Key and sev­eral cabi­net min­is­ters and MPs were on hand to sign a se­ries of ac­cords with Raukawa.

Raukawa Set­tle­ment Trust chair­man Chris McKenzie said the ac­cords pro­vided real mo­men­tum to a shared goal of work­ing to­gether to bring about real change for the peo­ple of Raukawa and the com­mu­ni­ties Raukawa share.

The ac­cords were the high­estlevel re­la­tion­ship doc­u­ments that Raukawa and the Crown had mu­tu­ally ne­go­ti­ated.

‘‘To­day, the words of part­ner­ship en­shrined in the found­ing doc­u­ment of our nation – the Treaty of Wai­tangi – stepped down from the pages and fi­nally came to life,’’ Mr McKenzie said be­fore sign­ing the ac­cords.

Mr McKenzie said the ini­tial fo­cus of the ac­cords would be to strengthen di­a­logue and re­la­tion­ships as the groups worked to­ward a shared goal of en­abling com­mu­ni­ties through part­ner­ship.

‘‘ This ac­cord pro­vides real mo­men­tum for iwi to par­tic­i­pate in a part­ner­ship fo­cused on the restora­tion and pro­tec­tion of the health and well-be­ing of the Waikato River,’’ he said.

Raukawa Set­tle­ment Trust chair­man Chris McKenzie and Prime Min­is­ter John Key sign the Raukawa Crown Ac­cord.

Mr Key said there were many chal­lenges fac­ing the Waikato River as eco­nomic pri­or­i­ties clashed with en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

Mr Key also said he hoped to re­turn to the area in the new year to sign Raukawa’s com­pre­hen­sive Treaty of Wai­tangi set­tle­ment.

At­tend­ing the sign­ing with Mr Key were Min­is­ter for Treaty Ne­go­ti­a­tions Chris Fin­layson, As­so­ci­ate Min­is­ter of Maori Af­fairs, Ge­orgina te Heu Heu, Min­is­ter of Fish­eries and Agri­cul­ture Phil Heat­ley, As­so­ci­ate Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Govern­ment John Carter, Taupo MP Louise Up­ston and Maori Party co-leader Tar­i­ana Turia as well as more than a dozen Crown of­fi­cials.

Mr Heat­ley said Raukawa would now have a say over the ‘‘day to day use’’ of te Waikato River in their rohe.

Mr Heat­ley said he looked for­ward to work­ing with Raukawa in set­ting fish­ing quo­tas for the river.

‘‘I’m de­lighted to know we’ll have peo­ple (from Raukawa) on the ground who know this river and love this river giv­ing me ad­vice.’’

Mr Fin­layson said Raukawa’s lead­ers were prac­ti­cal, sen­si­ble, ide­al­is­tic and de­ter­mined to make the new agree­ments work.

‘‘To­day is an ex­am­ple of the good that can come when par­ties work to­gether.’’

Raukawa Trust Board chair­man Ge­orge Ran­gi­tu­tia said ‘‘it is clear that the dam­age to the Waikato River can not be re­versed un­less we all work to­gether.

‘‘Only to­gether can we suc­ceed in restor­ing the well-be­ing of this trea­sure.

‘‘To­day we move ever for­ward to right­ing the wrongs of our past,’’ he said.

Mr McKenzie said Raukawa were im­pa­tient to be­gin pro­cesses and poli­cies that would re­store the river and its catch­ment, wa­ters that had nur­tured Raukawa peo­ple for many hun­dreds of years.

‘‘For too many years, Raukawa and other river iwi were left as voice­less spec­ta­tors to the degra­da­tion of our cher­ished taonga the Waikato River – provider of food, trans­porta­tion and spir­i­tual cleans­ing.’’

PART­NER­SHIP:

WEL­COME: Prime Min­is­ter John Key, cabi­net min­is­ters, MPs and Crown staff are wel­comed onto Papa O Te Aroha Marae.

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