New Zealand iwi Ngāti Maru signed a deed of settlement with the Crown on Friday, settling its historical Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) claims. Ngāti Maru is the last of eight iwi in Taranaki, a North Island region, to settle its historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.
The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Andrew Little, announced in a statement that the iwi, which comprises 2,800 registered members, will receive emotional, financial and cultural redress as part of the settlement. The emotional redress includes an apology from the Crown and a set of acknowledgments that address the historical Treaty of Waitangi breaches on part of the Crown. The financial redress is valued at NZD $30 million. The cultural redress includes the vesting of 16 culturally significant sites to Ngāti Maru.
Little explicitly addressed the historical breaches, which include “the Crown’s unjust and indiscriminate confiscation (raupatu) of half of the iwi’s land in 1865,” combined with Compensation Court and Native Land Court decisions that devastated the iwi’s “mana, welfare, economy, and socio-cultural development.”
The Compensation Court and Native Land Court were established in 1864 and 1865, respectively. The Compensation Court, which has since been abolished, heard “claims by loyal Māori for monetary compensation or the recovery of their land” amidst significant land confiscations on part of the Crown perpetrated against Māori. The Native Land Court, now the Māori Land Court, was a tangible representation of colonization given that it only permitted judges to name 10 owners of pieces of land—a system completely inconsistent with Māoritanga, which can see landowners of one particular piece of land reach hundreds of thousands. All landowners above the 10 cap were dispossessed of their ownership by the Native Land Court.
Little also addressed that between 1879 and 1881 in Parihaka, located in Taranaki, Crown “military forces imprisoned members of Ngāti Maru for participating in a peaceful resistance campaign.”
As a result of the Crown’s acts and omissions Ngāti Maru have been left virtually landless, and their people displaced and dispersed. While no redress can ever fully compensate for the destructive and demoralising effects of Crown actions, I hope this settlement will allow Ngāti Maru to realise their aspirations for a vibrant economic and cultural future, and restores a relationship based on mutual trust, respect, and cooperation.
The settlement is one of many that the Crown has entered into. In August 2018, 73 settlements had been passed into law, comprising a NZD $2.24 billion financial value. The settlements, although redressing only part of what was taken from iwi through colonization on part of the Crown, are symbolic of the Crown in modern times trying to honor its obligations as a partner to the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Te Kāhui Maru Trust: Te iwi o Maruwharanui will administer Ngāti Maru’s settlement.