Prime Minister Helen Clark and Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Ruth Dyson have announced a one-off grant of $6 million dollars to preserve and promote the identity, heritage, culture and the legacy of peace of the Moriori people of the Chatham Islands.
The announcement was made in a ceremony at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, which was connected to the Kopinga Marae on Rekohu, Chatham Islands, by video link.
"The grant will create income for Te Keke Tura Moriori Identity Trust, the charitable entity which will work to preserve, revive, support, and promote Moriori identity," Helen Clark said.
"The Trust Deed recognises the Moriori as ‘foundation people’ of the Chathams, by virtue of their ancestors having been on Rekohu (Chatham Island) and Rangiauria (Pitt Island), for many centuries.
"The Deed of Gift between the Crown and the Trust agrees that the revival of Moriori culture and identity is an important and worthwhile objective for the benefit of Moriori descendants and for the benefit of all people in New Zealand generally.
"The announcement today by the Crown is not a Treaty of Waitangi Settlement, although Moriori have separately made progress on such a claim," Helen Clark said.
The Deed of Gift from the Crown was signed by Ruth Dyson, and the Chair of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, Shirley King, at the Te Papa Marae.
The Hokotehi Moriori Trust represents those of Moriori descent. Moriori rangata matua (elders) and timiriki (youth) have taken part in the ceremony.
"Not only will Moriori benefit from the Te Keke Tura Moriori Identity Trust, all New Zealanders would benefit from a better understanding and appreciation of Moriori as a unique indigenous people," Ruth Dyson said.
"Moriori were a strong and intact people in terms of their culture and language, prior to contact with the "outside world" in 1791. The subsequent colonisation of Rekohu by both Pakeha and Mori had a devastating impact on the culture, language and identity of the Moriori people; the effects of which are still felt by descendants today.
"While the cultures and traditions of Mori, New Zealanders of European descent, Pacific peoples and members of other ethnic groups have been supported in different ways by the Crown over many years, Moriori have received relatively little support.
"The Moriori legacy of peace remains an inspiration to all New Zealanders today," Ruth Dyson said.
Speaking on behalf of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, Shirley King said today’s event was an historic step for Moriori and for all New Zealanders.
"It sets the basis upon which we can continue to rebuild our culture and language and to continue to honour the legacy of peace left to us by our karapuna (ancestors).
Moriori are deeply grateful to the government for helping to make this dream a reality and to all the hard work put in by many to bring this day about. Me rongo (in peace)", said Shirley King.
Te Keke Tura Moriori Identity Trust is a charitable trust with a maximum of five trustees. Two of these trustees will be appointed by Hokotehi Moriori Trust and three trustees appointed following an independent and transparent process.
Te Keke Tura Moriori Identity Trust is accountable to Moriori, Hokotehi Moriori Trust, and the Crown.
Current research indicates that Moriori came to the Chatham Islands from New Zealand about 1500. Moriori traditions, however, hold that there were people on the island before the canoe voyagers arrived.
The Moriori language is distinct from, but related to, Te Reo Maori and other Polynesian languages.
A Moriori Ieriki, or chief, Nunuku, who lived 24 generations before 1835, proclaimed an end to warfare, creating the Moriori legacy of peace.
Source: Denise Davis and Maui Solomon. 'Moriori', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 19-Sep-2007 www.TeAra.govt.nz/NewZealanders/MaoriNewZealanders/Moriori/en