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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Port Nicholson deed done in pencil

Port Nicholson claimants have moved a step closer to becoming the government's landlord.

At Parliament this afternoon, representatives of Taranaki Whanui initialed a draft deed of settlement to be taken out to members for ratification.

The deal includes a cultural redress package to transfer 17 culturally significant properties in the Wellington region.

There is also financial and commercial redress including more than $30 million in cash, and the opportunity to buy the former Shelly Bay air force base, the Wellington Railway Station building, land and airspace, and other Crown owned properties, many occupied by government agencies.


Meanwhile, better jobs, education and health for central North Island Maori could come from yesterday's Treelord deal.

Tuwharetoa leader Tumu te Heuheu, one of the architects of the largest ever treaty settlement, says it's about more than forestry.

He says the tribes involved will each have their own ways of passing on the benefits of the deal, but there will be a desire for the benefits to flow in a range of ways.

“I'm hoping that it’ll be reflected in work opportunities and also education, the needs of the local communities, local people hopefully will also benefit from better health initiatives. It will be creating the business ethic that will hopefully develop more work opportunities for our people,” Mr te Heuheu says.


National's leader John Key says the forestry settlement is a huge achievement for the country.

Mr Key says the half billion dollars in resources flowing to central North Island iwi will help their economic and social development.

It will add to what is already a strong part of the economy.

“It's probably not understood what a powerful part of the economy the Maori economy will continue to be. You go forward a decade or two you are going to see large ownership as we already see today, in forestry, fisheries, farming, quite a number of creative businesses from Maori, they will be a very powerful economic bloc and they’ll be making a big contribution to the New Zealand economy,” Mr Key says.

He says creating closure to aspects of the past such as the Maori land wars and inappropriate behaviour by the Native Land Court will bring the nation together.


A new organisation will help Maori and Pacific Island people with HIV.

Founder and director Marama Pala says the INA Maori Indigenous and South Pacific HIV Aids Foundation is organised on whare tapa wha principles, so whanau are supported as well as those with the disease.

Ms Pala, who has been HIV positive for 15 years, says the Maori and Pacific people make up about 11 percent of those with HIV in the country felt they needed their own roopu, because otherwise their issues become swamped in the mainstream.

INA will run community focused prevention and education programmes.


After yesterday's focus on central North Island claims, today the Cook Strait area was in the spotlight.

The Waitangi Tribunal released a pre-publication report on the claims of the eight iwi and hapu of Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island.

And Taranaki Whanui signed a draft deed of settlement for its claims to Wellington.

Port Nicholson Trust negotiator Ngatata Love says after years of struggle, there is a real willingness to settle.

He says the package is an advance on the initial agreement, which promised a number of culturally significant properties as well as the right to buy and lease back many of the buildings occupied by government departments and Crown agencies around central Wellington.

“We feel very positive that now we’ve reached a stage where we can take it out to the people and we believe that we’ve worked closely with the Crown to get what we believe is a very good settlement for our people, and the Crown are comfortable with it,” Professor Love says.


Across Cook Strait, a claim negotiator says the Waitangi Tribunal's report should bring talks in Te Tau Ihu to a speedy conclusion.

The tribunal found the Crown used unfair means to acquire most of the land in the northern South Island by 1860, and made predetermined decisions as to ownership which ignored the rights of many customary owners.

It recommended the settlement quantum be shared equally between the eight iwi.

Richard Bradley, the negotiator for the Kurahaupo cluster, says that's a sensible outcome given the intertwined interests of the iwi.

He says the tribunal has put to bed some myths which were creating unrealistic expectations among some iwi.

“Their report seems to break the cycle and say to people it’s time to fess up, there is no Easter Bunny, there is no Father Christmas, here’s the way it is. The best active title is actually ancestral title. If you conquer and don’t occupy, then that’s a historical fact but it doesn’t really have a strong base in custom if there are other people still in occupation,” Mr Bradley says.

He says the Kurahaupo iwi are almost at the agreement in principle stage, and the other to iwi clusters shouldn't be far behind.


A long term advocate for Internet access by all is lauding the technology leadership shown by Ngai Tuhoe.

The iwi is set to launch a WiFi network to connect schools, marae and homes throughout the Urewera rohe.

Lawrence Zwimpfer from the 2020 Communications Trust, which has helped Tuhoe with the project, says the iwi saw it was missing out on the broadband investment the major companies were making in the cities.

“They've given up for Telecom and Telstra to get them decent connectivity and have been building this fantastic wifi network. They’ve called on assistance but they’ve put a lot of resource and energy into it themselves and are creating something that’s actually a model not only for other rural parts of New Zealand but it’s also got a lot of interest in some of the Pacific island countries,” Mr Zwimpfer says.

Iwi in Tokomaru Bay are working on a similar WiFi network.


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