Treaty settlements working for all

The Crown signed a Deed of Settlement for all outstanding historical Treaty claims with Ngāti Kuri yesterday.

Ngāti Kuri’s claims are based on the Crown’s actions and omissions which left Ngāti Kuri marginalised on their ancestral lands with few economic opportunities. Many had to leave the rohe altogether, resulting in a loss of social cohesion and difficulty in passing on Ngāti Kuri’s tikanga, traditional knowledge and language to younger generations.

“Signing the Deed at Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua recognises Ngāti Kuri’s role as kaitiaki over this area,” Mr Finlayson said. “This settlement will enable the people of Ngāti Kuri to focus on developing a strong cultural and economic base for the future.”

The settlement includes financial and commercial redress of $21 million. It also includes cultural redress providing recognition of the traditional, historical, cultural and spiritual associations of Ngāti Kuri with several key sites.   

As part of the settlement, Ngāti Kuri will receive a cultural endowment fund of $2.230 million for the enhancement of the historical and cultural identity of Ngāti Kuri.

“Signing this Deed of Settlement with Ngāti Kuri is an important step towards settling all historical grievances in the Far North and New Zealand as a whole. It signifies a new relationship between Ngāti Kuri and the Crown,” Mr Finlayson said. . .

Settling claims has obvious benefits for those directly involved but the Minister says the gains are spread much wider:

Some people say they want an end to historical settlements. Most people agree. I do. Maori want them resolved as well.

For a while it seemed as if this might never happen. The process, which had started with fanfare in the 1990s, was crawling along at a snail’s pace for much of the 2000s.

One briefing to the previous government optimistically predicted all settlements could be completed by the year 2060.

That has changed. The completion of all settlements is now an achievable goal. It can happen, with the goodwill of all parties, in the next few years.

The settlements will end not because Maori and the public have tired of them, but because they are finished.

The Ngati Kuri will bring to 42 the number of settlements this Government has signed with iwi. That brings the total to 68.

National’s policy since the 1990s has been to address real grievances by reaching full and final settlements with genuine claimants in a timely fashion. Are there non-genuine claims? Certainly, just as there are vexatious cases in the common law courts. They are easy to spot. We are not interested in claims about the ownership of wind, for example.

Outrageous claims like this get a lot of attention in the media but that doesn’t mean they carry any weight in negotiations.

We are determined, however, to put right the thoroughly and accurately documented cases of hurt caused by the Crown’s wrongful actions in the past. This is what Treaty settlements are about.

The faster we settle these claims, the sooner there is an end. The sooner we settle, the sooner iwi can see the benefits of their settlements, and the sooner all New Zealanders benefit from moving on from grievance. Justice delayed is justice denied.

The success of Iwi who have moved from grievance is proof that we all benefit.

And the good news is that the completion of settlements is closer than many people think.

The number of remaining settlements is fewer than 50. Many of the remaining claimants have signed agreements in principle setting out the broad parameters of their settlements, and the Crown is engaged with almost all groups.

We are well on the way to the end. And the sky has not fallen. Despite dire predictions from a small minority at the beginning of this process, the quality of life of most New Zealanders has not been affected in any way. Beaches, national parks, rivers and mountain ranges are still enjoyed by everyone in exactly the same way they were before.

What has happened is that iwi have invested in their people and their regions.

Rather than blowing the proceeds of Treaty settlements, as was again predicted by a vocal few, most have acted wisely and developed the capacity of their people.

That’s another fact that may have surprised some people at the start of this process: Treaty settlements have brought iwi closer to their local communities, not further away.

The result is less division, less fear of the unknown, and more unity.

I think there is also more respect and greater understanding, all of which is better for us all.

 

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