For the past two decades Ngāti Toa has been on a journey to reconcile our breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi with the Crown. We have had to fight to protect our mana and articulate our claims so that the injustices and wrongs that were inflicted on Ngāti Toa Rangatira could be brought out into the open and properly acknowledged.
Overview of Ngāti Toa Claims
In 1986, 14 Ngāti Toa individuals lodged the Ngāti Toa Tribunal Claim (Wai207) on behalf of the Iwi. The claim covered the entire area of Ngāti Toa’s traditional rohe from Whangaehu in the north east to the Tararua Ranges, south to Turakirae Heads, across Cook Strait to Kaikoura, and then west to Arahura. Because the claim was so extensive the Waitangi Tribunal divided it into three separate districts of inquiry, Wellington/Port Nicholson Block District Inquiry (Wai145), the Northern South Island Inquiry/Te Tau Ihu (Wai 785) and the Porirua ki Whanganui District Inquiry.
The original claimants were:
Hautonga Te Hiko-Love
Tiratu Williams is the sole surviving claimant of the original 14.
Ngāti Toa’s Area of Interest or Rohe
Ngāti Toa’s area of interest covered more than two million hectares. It included the area from the lower North Island from Rangitikei in the north and included the Kapiti Coast, Hutt Valley, and Wellington areas, Kapiti and Mana Island. It included large areas of the Marlborough Sounds and much of the Northern South Island. Most of this land was lost through their dealings with the Crown.
The Ngāti Toa Claims
Ngāti Toa Rangatira’s claims relate primarily to the loss of land and resources in both the South and North Islands, their exclusion from the Tenths estates in both islands, and the loss of the iwi’s maritime empire. The Crown has recognised its actions undermined the maritime authority exercised by Ngāti Toa over the Cook Strait region in the 1800s, including the iwi’s authority over sea trading routes and the whaling industry in that area.
The claims also relate to the Crown’s land purchasing policies which led to the loss of virtually all of the iwi’s extensive lands in both islands and include the Crown’s failure to set aside adequate reserves and to ensure that the iwi retained sufficient lands for their future needs.
The iwi’s longstanding grievances include the Crown’s deliberate undermining of Ngāti Toa’s authority, the undertaking of a coercive military campaign against the tribe and their chiefs, Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, the kidnapping and detention of Te Rauparaha, and the sale of land under duress while the chief was detained. The Crown has acknowledged that its detention of Te Rauparaha without trial for 18 months was a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Ngāti Toa Rangatira’s claims were heard by the Waitangi Tribunal in two inquiries, the Wellington District Inquiry (1991-1999) and the Northern South Island (Te Tau Ihu) Inquiry (2000-2004). Reports on the two inquiries were released in 2003, and 2007-2008 respectively. Even so a great deal of the iwi’s rohe has not been inquired into. However the iwi agreed that it would press ahead into negotiations rather than await another inquiry for the Poriria ki Whanganui area. We have however obtained further detailed research into these lands and claims to support our negotiations.
The Waitangi Tribunal heard the Te Tau Ihu claims of all Northern South Island iwi between August 2000 and March 2004, and released preliminary reports in 2007 and a final report in November 2008.
In November 2005, the previous Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and the Minister of Māori Affairs recognised the mandate of the Ngāti Toa Rangatira Negotiating Team to represent Ngāti Toa Rangatira in negotiating a comprehensive historical Treaty settlement. The Crown signed Terms of Negotiation with Ngāti Toa Rangatira on 24 September 2007.
On 11 February 2009, the Crown and Ngāti Toa Rangatira co-signed a Letter of Agreement. The parties will now develop a detailed Deed of Settlement based on this agreement, and also the post-settlement governance arrangements to receive and manage the redress. The iwi members of Ngāti Toa Rangatira will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not to accept the Crown’s offer as set out in the Deed of Settlement, and on the post-settlement governance arrangements. If ratified, the Deed will be signed, the settlement will be implemented and the redress transferred following the passage of settlement legislation.
The Ngāti Toa Rangatira Negotiating Team, Te Kaha, consists of Tiratu Willams (the last surviving Wai 207 Claimant), Iwikatea Nicholson, led by Tā Matiu Rei and Te Ariki Wi Neera Jnr. Legal and strategic advice has been provided by Deborah Edmunds and Baden Vertongen of Kensington Swan and Professor Richard Boast who has undertaken all of Ngāti Toa’s historical research.
Te Kaha carried out negotiations on behalf of Ngāti Toa Rangatira. The Office of Treaty Settlements, with the support of the Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand, the Treasury, and other government agencies, represented the Crown in day-to-day negotiations. The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Hon Christopher Finlayson, and his predecessor Hon Dr Michael Cullen, represented the Crown in high-level negotiations with Ngāti Toa Rangatira.
Signing of Letter of Agreement
In February 2009 Ngāti Toa Rangatira counter signed a letter of agreement with the Crown providing the basis for the full and final settlement package.
The letter of agreement acknowledges Ngāti Toa interests in the Northern South Island spanning the Cook Strait and including Wellington and a large part of the Southern North Island. We iwi’s rohe is estimated to be around four million hectares in total.
Led by our rangatira, Te Rauparaha, Te Rangihaeata, Nohorua and others the iwi migrated from Kawhia to the Cook Strait region in the early 19th century. By 1840 Ngāti Toa controlled a large territory in central New Zealand on both sides of the Cook Strait. Following a major collision between the Nelson settlers and the iwi at the Wairau in 1843 the iwi was targeted by Sir George Grey as a major obstacle to his objectives. Within a few short years Te Rauparaha had been kidnapped, other chiefs driven into exile or transported to Tasmania, and large areas of land around Porirua and Cloudy Bay taken by the government.
The iwi has been actively pursuing resolution of its claims for over 20 years and has been involved in two major Waitangi Tribunal Inquiries and several court cases – including in the Privy Council – to get to this point.
The settlement for Ngāti Toa Rangatira includes several very high profile commercial assets and what some might say is a New Zealand icon – Kapiti Island.
Ngāti Toa conquered Kapiti in the early nineteenth century and the island became the iwi’s stronghold and base for its maritime empire. Over time the iwi came under pressure from the Crown to acquire its lands there for a reserve. The iwi resisted and in the end the Crown legislated to force the islands acquisition. Tā Matiu Rei, Executive Director of the Ngāti Toa iwi organisation and chief negotiator commented in respect of the settlement negotiations:
“The return of Kapiti to the iwi is an appropriate recognition of the fight we carried on for nearly eighty years to try to keep these lands. Ngāti Toa still retains a small piece of private land on Kapiti and the iwi are very concerned to ensure that the very special ecological and conservation values of Kapiti are not affected in any way”.
Assets which the iwi can acquire include the Wellington Central Police Station, surplus Kenepuru Hospital lands in Porirua, and the Royal New Zealand Police College, as well as 40 schools, farm properties, court houses, police stations, and prisons. The largest single asset is approximately 39,000 hectares of Crown forest land in the South Island. In total around $200 million worth of assets are able to be acquired.
The settlement has also allowed Ngāti Toa to undertake some significant investment in the region. The Prime Minister has said that the redress will unlock significant economic development potential for the iwi and the regions in which it lives, and this is also Tā Matiu Rei’s view:
“This settlement will allow the iwi to continue its investment in the local community and region. The Ngāti Toa iwi body already operates a very successful primary health care operation for not only the iwi but the Wellington community. Parts of the redress are designed to allow us to expand this service to include a wider range of services and also to new areas such as central Wellington and the South Island. We also want to seriously consider undertaking development of some of the lands. Many have been held in limbo in the Crown’s land bank and we can now look at how they can be developed, not only for the iwi’s best interests but also for the region.”
Ngāti Toa also signed an aquaculture settlement with the Crown in 2008. The new settlement will provide Ngāti Toa with an opportunity to involve itself more in coastal issues as it will be recognised as the Kaitiaki of the Cook Strait and large parts of the Marlborough Sounds.
The settlement provides a range of acknowledgements for the iwi including, uniquely, a plaque at Parliament Grounds. One of the iwi’s main grievances was that after kidnapping their primary chief Te Rauparaha and other chiefs, the Crown coerced the sale of Ngāti Toa’s lands. Despite advice to the contrary, Governor Grey obtained signatures from Chiefs behind closed doors at Government House (which was then located near the main steps of the Parliament Buildings) in March 1847 whilst Te Rauparaha was held in detention in Auckland.
Claimant, Tiratu Williams is also a member of the Ngāti Toa negotiating team.
“This settlement was a long time coming. We were very pleased that the new Minister for Treaty Negotiations, the Minister of Māori Affairs, and even the Prime Minister has taken a real interest in concluding our negotiations. I am very glad I am here to see it through and see the iwi’s interests in Kapiti, Wellington, Cook Strait, and the South Island finally properly recognised. It is very satisfying to see. The proposed settlement vindicates the hard work of many of our people who have passed on and this is a testament to them.”