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Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples told Parliament today that he looked forward to the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill being passed so Te whānau a Mokomoko can move on to the next stage of their journey without the shame and stigma they have carried for so long.
In moving the first reading of the Bill, Dr Sharples said it gives statutory recognition to an agreement he signed with Te whānau a Mokomoko last year, on behalf of the Crown, to rectify unresolved matters relating to the free pardon granted to Mokomoko in 1992.
Mokomoko was tried and executed in 1866 for the alleged role in the murder of the Rev Carl Sylvius Volkner, a crime which Mokomoko consistently denied. Resistance by local whānau to the punitive raids to hunt for the accused were used by the Crown to justify the raupatu, or confiscation of tens of thousands of hectares of land in the eastern Bay of Plenty.
All those convicted were pardoned over 100 years later, but Mokomoko’s pardon did not specifically restore his character, mana and reputation.
“Seeking and receiving justice for these horrible events has not been easy for Te whānau a Mokomoko. The memory of the wrongs done by their tipuna has been burnt into the consciousness of each successive generation of the whānau. This is something that often the Pākehā world does not understand - how history still lives with us and is in our actions, our minds, our ambitions, and our aspirations,” said Dr Sharples.
“I sincerely hope this (Bill) will help lift the shame, the stigma, felt by the whānau and be an important step towards restoring the relationship between the Crown and Te whānau a Mokomoko.
“I am aware that the Waitangi Tribunal has also recommended that the Crown create some form of tangible tribute to mark the wrong done and demonstrate to all concerned that the blame for the raupatu did not and does not rest on Mokomoko or his descendants.
“I would like to assure the whānau that the Tribunal’s recommendations on this point will be explored with them by the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and by myself and our officials as part of the Whakatōhea historical Treaty settlement negotiations.
“This bill records the waiata composed by Mokomoko while in Mt Eden Prison. The first line of the waiata is now a whakatauākī for the whānau. The whakatauākī indicates how deeply the events surrounding the arrest, trial, and execution of their tipuna Mokomoko are etched on the collective memory of the whānau.
“The whakatauākī is as follows: ‘Tangohia te taura i taku kakī, kia waiata au i taku waiata’, which has the meaning of ‘Have the strength to speak up, and the truth will not be silenced.’”