175 years of in­jus­tice recog­nised by Crown

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS -

‘‘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.

PHOTO: GRANT MATTHEW/FAIR­FAX NZ

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.

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