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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 04, 2008

River tribes sign on to clean up plan

Ngati Raukawa and Te Arawa hapu Ngati Tahu and Ngati Whaoa are getting a say in how the upper reaches of the Waikato River are managed.

The agreement in principle signed at Parliament this afternoon flows on from the river settlement signed with Tainui last month.

It provides for a committee to oversee strategy for the river from Huka Falls to Lake Karapiro, and a million dollars a year to fund iwi participation in co-management.

Dickie Farrar, the general manager of the Raukawa Trust, says the focus for the iwi is the clean-up and sustainability of the Waikato.

She says her iwi has a 600-year long relationship with the river, and the settlement has been a long time coming.

“It's a culmination of a lot of time, energy, tangis. Our people have memories going back so far that sometimes it’s really difficult to put it into words. The words of our kaumatua and the words of out people at this present time,” Ms Farrar says.

REAL TEETH IN CO-MANAGEMENT REGIME

Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa says today's agreement will give power back to the iwi.

Spokesperson Rawiri Te Whare says representatives from Ngati Tahu, Ngati Whaoa and Raukawa will join Waikato-Tainui on the Guardians of the Waikato River.
The guardians will appoint trustees to the Waikato River Clean Up Trust, which will administer the $7 million dollar a year special clean-up fund.

He says that's the sort of influence the iwi wants.

“The agreement that we have negotiated is around a co-management regime that will have power and influence to make firm decisions and get firm directions and advice on how the river should be cleaned up. I think it will be a body with teeth and influence, otherwise we just wouldn’t go there,” Mr Te Whare says.

COMMUNITY PEOPLE WISE UP ACADEMICS ON RESEARCH NEEDS

New ways of looking at Maori have been under the microscope today in Christchurch.

More than 300 academics and researchers are attending the two day Nga Kete a Rehua Symposium hosted by Canterurbury University's Aotahi: School of Maori and Indigenous Studies.

Spokesperson Rawiri Taonui says a quarter of them are from South Island universities - a big advance on a decade ago when there were only a handful of Maori academics in Te Wai Pounamu.

He says there's also some important flax roots input.

“We've got quite a number of community members, people who work in health and people who work in education giving papers on what university research should be contributing to Maori communities,” Mr Taonui says.

Maori researchers tend to look for practical applications in the community for their mahi.

NGATI APA SETTLE TO BOOST CULTURE

Ngati Apa has made cultural revitalisation a priority in its treaty settlement.

The Rangitikei iwi yesterday initialed the final wording of a deed of settlement, which includes a $2 million increase on the quantum to $16 million and the chance to buy 6700 hectares of Crown forest land.

The claim relates mainly to the Crown's 1849 purchase of the 260 thousand acre Turakina-Rangitikei block.

Adrian Rurawhe, the chair of Te Runanga o Ngati Apa, says the iwi's 3000 members will get a chance to affirm their heritage.

“We have accepted five pieces of land for the reestablishment of papakainga and also a putea that can be used for development of a cultural redevelopment plan, its implementation and also the publication of a book about our history,” Mr Rurawhe says.

The Ngati Apa Runanga will now conduct a four week ratification process with hapu.

TE ROROA BILL THROUGH COMMITTEE STAGE

Meanwhile, a Northland hapu has moved a step closer to getting back land around the Waipoua forest, with Parliament this morning passing the Te Roroa Claims Settlement Bill through its committee stages.

The hapu of Ngati Whatua signed off on a $9 million dollar settlement on the eve of the 2005 election, but deal came under fire from National, the Greens and the Maori Party for being too small to be economically viable.

It also ignored concerns about koiwi taken from burial caves in the Waimamaku area.

Negotiator Alex Nathan says Te Roroa continued to talk to the government, which added enough to the pot to satisfy the minor parties - and the hapu.

“The fact the smaller parties weren’t supporting it caused perhaps a rethink and we just continued the discussions with a number of the politicians and the result is an offer that is perhaps more palatable and perhaps closer to what it should have been right at the outset,” Mr Nathan says.

The farms Te Roroa will buy under the settlement, including one formerly owned by Allan Titford, will continue to be leased to local farmers until the iwi is ready to take over management.

PETERS DEFENDED FOR VISION FOR MAORI

The Minister of Maori Affairs is still supporting the embattled Winston Peters.

The New Zealand First leader appeared in front of Parliament's privileges committee today for another grilling on a $100,000 donation from expatriate businessman Owen Glenn to pay the costs of his Tauranga electoral petition.

Parekura Horomia says people should taihoa on their criticism of Mr Peters until all the facts are on the table.

He says the former Minister of Maori Affairs has always had a vision of Maori advancement.

“He has been consistent about trying to ensure that Maori get into the modern opportunities and he has been a diehard, even to the extent where 15 years ago people used to call him Pakeha Maori, but he certainly had foresight and vision, and another thing he is well ahead of most politicians is his support for pakeke and kaumatua rights,” Mr Horomia says.

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