Monday, October 25, 2010

Ngati Kuia Te Whakatau Treaty Settlement

Congratulations Ngati Kuia on the signing of your Treaty of Waitangi settlement deed on Saturday - you have waited a long time for this - Te Whakatau deed of settlement – redress for 150 years of injustice, broken promises and cultural repression for Ngati Kuia, the people of Te Hoiere (Pelorus).

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson said (from The Marlborough Express)
"The Crown had repeatedly failed Ngati Kuia in their rights and interests to land and its actions had left them almost landless.
And the Crown's attempts to provide for landless Ngati Kuia amounted to nothing more than a cruel hoax, he said. "In 1884, Teone Hiporaiti was moved to describe Ngati Kuia as `the poorest tribe under the heavens', and I think these words resonate with the sheer exasperation and despair that must have been felt by all of Ngati Kuia.
"The Crown is deeply sorry for these actions and its failure to remedy them until now. I hope that in signing this deed, we are restoring the economic base of Ngati Kuia, restoring the honour of the crown and re-establishing the treaty relationship between the two parties."
And the iwi response was (From The Marlborough Express)
"Ngati Kuia chairman Waihaere Mason replied: "Greetings, minister, and welcome. The fact that you have come here, face to face, to this, our place – centre of the universe – to be with us today speaks volumes for our mana, and for your mana."
"As a people, we must move from grievance to a place of optimism; to a new future that will allow us to grow culturally, socially and economically. We must seize this opportunity. We must move on. Our children's children will be told of today and charged with the responsibility to protect this heritage."
and (from The Marlborough Express)
"The settlement gave the iwi many opportunities to buy land in Te Tau Ihu, Sharyn Smith said.
But, also it allowed the iwi to give their – original – names back to the land.
This was important to Ngati Kuia.
"We were the people who named the places – all we are reinstating is our own names. Te Hoiere (Pelorus) is a significant name for us; to have that acknowledged with that name is really important – and that is only one name of many."
and (from The Marlborough Express)
"That was what redress was about: identity."
"Having a secure sense of identity is much more important than having money in the bank. To have a place to belong and to have people who call you their own."
Ngati Kuia would always work toward strengthening the land of their tipuna (ancestors) for their children, iwi negotiator Mark Moses said."If your sense of pride comes from saying, `I come from this mountain and this river', but the mountain is bare and the river is polluted, what does that say about you?"
These quotes show what values are important for maori - they also show the dignity and mana of the people and they allow us to understand and appreciate the momentus occasion that this is for those whose land was taken - this is a privilege we have been afforded.

How much could we learn if these historical and life changing settlements were given greater prominence in our society? How much would we grow - as a country, as well as personally.

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