Over night, the cloak of the mountain clan, he kahui maunga, has fallen. The snowfall that has blessed the mountains of the central north island is indeed a tohu rangatira of this auspicious day.
Four months ago the Central North Island Iwi Collective issued a release, which set the stage for today. I quote from that release:
“Central North island iwi with interests in the forest lands are enthusiastic about uniting in a common cause that has long term benefit for us all.
We are now paddling our own waka, and for the first time on this issue, are not passengers in someone else’s waka”.
It is a sentiment which we in the Maori Party fully endorse.
We stand here today, to give full credit to those who have forged ahead, creating a new destiny for the generations to come.
Na reira kei nga waka, Te Arawa, Tainui, Mataatua, tena koutou katoa.
Kei nga mana, kei nga reo, kei nga karangarangatanga maha, kei nga rangatira o era atu waka koutou i haere mai ki te tautoko i te kaupapa whakahirahira o tenei ra. Tena koutou katoa.
He ra nui tenei, he ra whakahirahira, he kaupapa whakahirahira kei te whai nei.
He ra nui tënei hoki, kia mihi atu, kia tangi atu ki a rätau, kua mene atu ki te po.
Ki a ratau nga kuia, nga koroua, kua ngaro atu, i a ratau nga moemoea, nga wawata kia puawai o tatau iwi, kei roto i tenei wa uaua i raro i nga ture pakeha. Na reira, haere nga mate, okioki mai.
Kia hoki ki te kaupapa ataahua o te rangi nei tena tatau katoa.
Tatau ma he honore ma te Toarangapu Maori nei, ki te tautoko i te pire nei.
Ahakoa he pire kia riro ai nga hua, nga rawa, nga putea, ki nga iwi – e hara tenei i te tino putake o tenei pire.
Ki ahau nei he pire tënei mo te rangatiratanga, Te rangatiratanga o nga iwi, o nga hapu.
Kia tu rangatira ai i roto i tenei wa. He mana motuhake to tenei iwi, he mana motuhake ano to tena iwi.
Kei roto i tënei mahi whakatakoto kerëme i puta mai te rangatiratanga.
Ki ahau nei hoki, he pire tenei mo te kotahitanga.
Ahakoa, te taukumekume i nga kaupapa, he tautohetohe i nga korero – i te mutunga ake i mahitahi i te hunga CNI i te kotahitanga.
And so Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the spirit of rangatiratanga, which allowed the settlement negotiations to be effected.
And I acknowledge the presence of kötahitanga and a new unity which has emerged from the settlement process.
I was greatly enthused by the remarks made at this morning’s ceremony which acknowledged a spirit of cooperation and a desire to move forward.
Dr Cullen mentioned the inability of past Governments to honour the partnership between Maori and Pakeha – and spoke of reconciliation, as embodied in this settlement process and the settlement itself.
Tribal leaders acknowledged that their efforts continued on the work and dedication of many of those who have passed on. And proclaimed that this settlement will be used to promote the future generations.
And so today, we acknowledge Ngai Tühoe, Ngati Manawa, Ngati Tüwharetoa, Ngati Whakaue, Ngati Whare, Ngati Raukawa, affiliates of Te Arawa iwi and hapü and Ngati Rangitihi for your great progress in charting your future direction.
Every waka is inspired by the kaihautu who know full well the path ahead.
And so we pay our tribute to Te Ariki, Te Whare o Te Heuheu, e Tumu, tena koe, congratulations for this initiative which you have lead. In some ways it could have only been you and no one else to pull all parties together in the first instance and then engage with the major players of the Crown.
Your absolute desire to pull the people together, knowing that if they were to move forward, it must be together, paddling their own waka was inspirational. Ka nui nga mihi ki a koe.
Te Ariki was greatly assisted in this role by the involvement of the Crown facilitators, Wira Gardiner and Matt Te Pou. Their involvement, free of any agendas, motivated by the knowledge of the important job ahead of them, has been significant and should not be under-estimated. Tena körua.
We are pleased that this issue has progressed out of the Courts, beyond the legal fraternity, and back within the realm of iwi and hapu.
The style of negotiation of kaikorero ki te kaikorero; iwi to iwi; is a model which isn’t new, but has found a renewed significance in today’s settlement environment. This is how it should have always been and we congratulate you for this substantial feat.
Madam Speaker, today is an extremely significant day because of this journey, because of this waka.
There was always much more at stake than the allocation of accumulated rentals based on mana whenua.
For this has been a journey of give and take – of kotahitanga.
We acknowledge Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa who were willing to engage, to review their position, and to reassess the stance they took for the betterment of the collective. That position, having prepared their initial settlement can not have been an easy decision, but one that nevertheless is significant in the context of this settlement.
We pay tribute also to Dr Cullen for the new approach he has brought to bear, the commitment he has demonstrated towards settling the historical claims to the majority of the CNI forest lands.
I was particularly pleased with his comments of inclusions to Ngati Rangitihi and that the door remains open for their return to the negotiating table. These sentiments were also made strongly by te Ariki Tumu Te Heuheu and clearly reflects the mood of the whole process.
Madam Speaker, the history of the settlement process through successive Governments has revealed that there are often disaffected parties some settlements.
The Maori Party has been very critical of various aspects of the settlement process, but looks forward to working with all parties in this House to ensure that there is always transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and of course, durability.
Finally, I am proud to be here today, to witness this immensely significant settlement in many respects.
The words of the Waitangi Tribunal in their report, He Maunga Rongo: Report on Central North Island Claims; have today come home to roost. Those words were, and I quote:
For hapu and iwi of the Central North Island, the Crown’s refusal to recognise Mäori autonomy has had a cost of which they are acutely conscious, though to many New Zealanders this might come as a surprise: loss of authority and control over their lands and their natural resources, including their waterways and geothermal resources.
Such loss of control has had lasting effects on the development of Central North Island Maori in tourism, forestry, power generation, and farming.
Today, this first reading is able to put right the wrongs; in returning the CNI forest lands of the CNI iwi that have direct customary interests in those lands.
But most importantly of all, this first reading has come about from the collective commitment of iwi in the Central North Island, to debate between themselves, to discuss with the Crown, and to remain constantly focused on the common cause.
We join with the House, in placing on record, our support at first reading for this ground-breaking initiative of the Central North Island Iwi Collective