Hundreds of Ngāti Maniapoto uri have arrived in Wellington, many travelling by special charter train, for the third reading of the tribe’s deed of settlement bill on Thursday.
Bella Takiari-Brame, chairperson of the post-settlement governance entity Te Nehenehenui, says it’s an honour to be travelling to Parliament for this moment.
“Our whānau have been involved in this settlement process for over 30 years. This will be a significant occasion for current generations to witness, the next phase of our journey for our people.
“But we wouldn’t be here without the efforts and commitment of those who walked before us, including our tūpuna, some who are no longer here with us. We must acknowledge their courage and sacrifice.”
The iwi radio station, Maniapoto FM, has been broadcasting the train journey, which began early on Wednesday morning from Auckland and picked up more than 180 whānau on the way in Hamilton, Te Kūiti and Taumarunui as it meandered along the North Island main trunk line through much of the Ngāti Maniapoto rohe in the central North Island.
Those fortunate to be on the train for the historic journey were farewelled by their whanaunga at each stop along the way with hugs and waiata as the iwi nears the end of a long process to have its Treaty of Waitangi claim settled.
The deed of settlement includes financial redress of $177 million, relationship agreements with various Crown agencies, the transfer of 36 sites back to Maniapoto as cultural redress, first right to buy Crown lands in the future and recognition by the Crown of the iwi story and Treaty breaches, and a formal apology for those breaches.
Covid-19 restrictions have prevented Ngāti Maniapoto uri from celebrating the milestone so far but Te Nehenehenui is committed to holding a ceremony within the rohe to mark the deed of settlement signing and its introduction to law.
“Settlement can be a divisive process. This will not heal the mamae or compensate for the loss we have suffered over generations. But it does mark the start of a new relationship – a partnership – with the Crown,” Takiari-Brame says.