175 years of injustice recognised by Crown
‘‘Bittersweet’’ is the word used by Ma¯ori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell to describe The Rangita¯ne o Manawatu¯ Claims Settlement Bill introduced to Parliament last week.
‘‘The people of Rangita¯ne o Manawatu¯ were subjected to legislative prejudice which made their land more susceptible to partition, fragmentation, and alienation,’’ Te Ururoa says. ‘‘This was enacted in the hope that Ma¯ori would abandon their tribal and communal structures of traditional land holdings.’’
By the end of 1880, Rangita¯ne o Manawatu¯ held about 20,000 acres of land. Much of this whenua was further partitioned by the Native Land Court into blocks which were subsequently purchased by non-Ma¯ori private interests.
Five decades later, Rangita¯ne o Manawatu¯ landholdings had reduced to 2903 acres. This remaining land was eventually eroded by further sales and as an iwi, Rangita¯ne o Manawatu¯ became virtually landless, a situation the Minister describes as tragic.
‘‘The direct loss of whenua had a semi-permanent flow-on effect to members of Rangita¯ne o Manawatu – to the loss of the traditional tribal structures, their customary traditions, language and their tribal mana. This has hindered their participation in social, cultural, environmental and economic life in Aotearoa.’’
He says the iwi had been subjected to ‘‘inordinate injustice dating back 175 years’’, which is why he used the word ‘‘bittersweet’’.
Te Ururoa says the bill is a step towards Rangita¯ne o Manawatu¯, reclaiming its traditional tribal structures and customary traditions.
Iwi kaumatua Wiremu Te Awe Awe described the occasion as ‘‘very moving’’. Last year, Rangita¯ne o Manawatu¯ settled their Treaty of Waitangi grievances for $13 million, a process he says brought the iwi’s six hapu together.
Treaty Settlement Minister Chris Finlayson during the signing of the Deed of Settlement to settle historic Treaty of Waitangi grievances at Hotoumanawa Marae, in Palmerston North last year.